CHASE COUNTY, Kan. – Symphony in the Flint Hills had to cancel its annual summer event after a microburst tore through Chase County last Saturday.
The nonprofit isn’t refunding tickets, and that's left people with mixed reactions.
The Kansas City Symphony performs every June in the Flint Hills. It’s something planned years ahead of time, in part by Board President Mike Stout and Executive Director Christy Davis.
“Well in advance of the event, we have meetings with the National Weather Service and our emergency management personnel, so we had predictions," Davis said. "We knew the weather was coming.”
A microburst swept through Irma’s Pasture in Bazaar, Kansas, and destroyed the rented, already-assembled massive tents.
“I remember looking and thinking, ‘OK, well, with enough crews we can get these tents back up, and we'll have an event on Sunday,'" Davis said. "But it ripped them to shreds. It was rough, did a lot of damage."
The damage was so bad that despite the sun coming out Sunday, there was no way the show could go on.
That meant disappointing 5,000 paying customers and another couple thousand more volunteers, patrons and vendors.
“What was really unfair was when those tents went down," Stout said. "There wasn't any way out of it. There were a lot of people unhappy and a lot of them were people that had helped with us and we're counting on doing this.”
The group said it’s not something organizers can just reschedule a few weeks out. Next year’s event is already on the books.
They also said they can’t give out refunds for tickets, as printed on the tickets themselves.
They explained, unlike for-profit festivals or events happening at established venues, it takes a lot of money on the front end to host this event.
“It's very resource intensive," Davis said. "We don't have a venue that has, you know, sidewalks and driveways and parking lots. We're building a menu from scratch, so those expenses are incurred whether you ultimately have the event or not. So our biggest hit is really related to having spent with all the contracts and also missing out on income on site.”
The board said some aspects of the event are insured, but that a weather event like Saturday’s wouldn’t have been covered.
Symphony in Flint Hills said it won’t forget about the ticket holders who so generously supported their mission.
“I can certainly see why someone would be upset in that circumstance," Stout said. "We'll have one next year and hopefully it'll be as good or better than the one we had planned for this year.”
“We are working on some, some ideas for experiences throughout the year and other ways to honor the ticket holders, understanding that they're disappointed,” Davis said.
They’re still trying to recover some of that lost revenue, and part of that effort is auctioning off these art pieces that would’ve sold Saturday.