Mayfest: No backup venue for this year’s Dillo Day


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Students walk from the Lakefill after last year’s Dillo Day was canceled. The annual concert was canceled after high winds led Northwestern and Evanston officials to deem the conditions unsafe.

Emily Chin, Assistant A&E Editor

Mayfest will not have a backup venue for this year’s Dillo Day in the case of inclement weather as organizers decided there was no location that would be able to accommodate all of the Dillo Day attendees and performers.

Last year’s Dillo Day was canceled due to high winds before any of the main stage artists were able to perform. Northwestern and Evanston officials, along with stage production vendors, decided both the main stage and the WNUR stage were unfit for the 30 mph winds and needed to be shut down.

“We looked at every possible indoor venue in the area — on campus and in Evanston — and there isn’t a venue that could allow every single Dillo Day attendee that would be present on the Lakefill to attend a backup venue,” said Mayfest spokesman Ben Bass, a Communication junior.

Bass added that the group also faced constraints in its finances and ensuring safety.

Mayfest has made other changes this year following last year’s canceled festival, including a new event insurance plan, which covers postponement, delay and cancellation of Dillo Day, according to a news release. If Mayfest were to make a claim on the insurance plan, the group would work to regain lost funds from the event.

“We worked very closely with (the Office of) Risk Management in order to draft something that made sense … and made us learn from the past,” said Mayfest co-chair Eric Brownrout, a Weinberg senior. “The nice thing about this insurance policy is it’s very flexible.”

Another improvement from last year is an upgraded stage that can resist winds of 90 mph without windwalls and 60 mph with, according to the release. The new stage is one of the highest rated for weather reliability and safety in the industry, Brownrout said.

He said the organization was “heartbroken” after last year’s cancellation and can relate to students’ frustration over a canceled campus tradition.

“A whole year of hard work seemed to go to waste,” he said. “Students all look forward to this crazy day. We’ve taken a few steps to mitigate risk, and we’re in a position where we can still give back to the student body. We hope that the student body will understand the restraints that were put on us.”

Mayfest started planning Dillo Day 2016 soon after last year’s cancelled event, Bass said. It looked at different ways to improve the event in the context of its budget and safety concerns.

Bass said organizers considered busing people to a separate location in the event of a cancellation, but they realized it would be out of their budget. In addition, if they were to move to a smaller venue, not all attendees would be able to go the other venue, he said.  

Similar to last year, organizers will communicate changes throughout the event with attendees through social media and through the Dillo Day iOS app, Bass said.

Mayfest will continue to work closely with University Police, Evanston Police Department and Evanston Fire Department to ensure students’ safety, Brownrout said. He said situations that threaten Dillo Day each year include lightning, tornadoes and high winds.

In 2013, poor weather during the middle of Dillo Day caused a delay and prevented one of the artists from performing. Throughout the day, Mayfest worked with administrators and communicated with the student body to resolve the issue, Mayfest spokeswoman Elisa O’Neal said.

“We’ve handled it before, and we intend to handle it again if it were to happen,” the SESP senior said.

Wristband registration will begin April 11 on the Norris Box Office website. All undergraduates are guaranteed a free wristband; however, guest wristbands are limited and cost $10. Guest wristband registration will be done in six phases throughout April. Wristband distribution begins May 11.

Dillo Day will take place May 21.

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