Fans criticise evacuation of NSW Wine Machine event
Attendees of Wine Machine, an 11,000-capacity live music and wine festival in New South Wales (NSW), have criticised festival organisers following the event’s cancellation and evacuation due to severe lightning storms.
Organisers evacuated the festival site after an electrical storm hit Australia’s Hunter Valley, where the event was held. The cancellation occurred before festival headliner Hot Dub Time Machine had performed.
Festivalgoers have since criticised the way in which organisers handled the severe weather conditions, citing aggression from security staff and a disregard for safety. Fans objected to being “shoved out on to roads” and prevented from finding shelter on site.
“The safety of all patrons, artists and staff is of absolute priority,” wrote the Wine Machine organisers in a statement.
“The Hunter Valley last night experienced an extreme weather system causing an initial show stop and eventual evacuation of the event. This sucked for every single person on site,” read the festival’s statement, adding that “evacuations of this nature are never pleasant.”
Organisers invited attendees to provide email feedback on how police and security staff handled the evacuation.
Fans also criticised Wine Machine for its overpriced food and drink, poor sound system and excessive queues. Some attendees compared the event to Fyre Festival, while others suggested it be re-named “Line Machine” due to the long queues.
“The safety of all patrons, artists and staff is of absolute priority”
Festival organisers addressed the complaints, saying that “due to the current climate in NSW, severe licensing conditions were placed upon the event limiting drinks to two per person causing unacceptable congestion at the bars.”
Music festivals across NSW are struggling to adapt to the government’s new licensing regulations, which place events under much closer scrutiny and require many additional licensing and security costs.
The Wine Machine organisers also cited “staffing issues” for external bar operator Prime Collective. The bar supplier said it takes “full responsibility”, explaining that “two of our staffing mini-buses carrying 32 staff were reportedly involved in an incident whilst en route from Sydney, resulting in bars being under staffed.”
Wine Machine headliner and founder Hot Dub Time Machine has announced two free shows, the first on April 11 at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre (2,500-cap.) and the second on April 12 at the Newcastle Exhibition Centre (7,528-cap.), to make up for the missed set at the festival.
“Wine Machine and I both appreciate all the support over the years, so we wanted to make it up to you with this small token of our appreciation,” said the DJ.
Wine Machine is held in six locations across Australia, including the Yarra Valley (Victoria), Swan Valley (Western Australia) and Canberra’s Lake George winery.