Photo of the line to get into Smorgasburg Central Park courtesy of NYCFoodPhoto
The food festival in Central Park Friday night organized by Brooklyn group Smorgasburg was such a mess that the organizers have made a public apology.
We heard from several attendees that the festival, held at Rumsey Playfield near 72nd street, would not let anyone in after about 6:45 p.m. — despite advertising the event as lasting from 5 to 9 — because the event was filled to capacity. People waiting in line were not even allowed to go in after other people exited, they said. On twitter, it was being called a “fiasco.” One attendee told us:
“We sat there for 1.5 hrs bc we couldn’t believe they weren’t gonna let anyone in. THOUSANDS of potential customers with $$$$$$$ and they were ALL FURIOUS. They all permanently blew a potentially lucrative thing bc these potential loyal customers with their $$$$ vowed to NEVER return to any Smorg events.”
One reader who did make it inside told us that the vendors had plenty of food but not enough customers because the organizers were turning everyone away:
“They didn’t run out of food because we were inside speaking with the vendors while our friends got shut out. The vendors were really disappointed bc they were waiting for customers after so many people had exited. But they absolutely refused to let in anyone else less than two hours after the event began. Many of the vendors told us they had feared that setting this up in such a small area would result in a disaster. We constantly have street fairs, closing down stretches of blocks and causing gridlock, so that irregular tube socks can be sold. But when something worthwhile is offered, it’s set up in a tiny area within a massive park. I vote for bringing the irregular tube sock vendors to Rumsey!”
The photo below was taken by one attendee who ended up leaving because the line was too long:
The organizers, who have discussed holding the event regularly next year, released the following apology:
“Public Apology: To everyone who attended our Central Park event last night, we are deeply sorry for how it turned out, and for the inconvenience it caused so many people. This was a smaller event (in terms of both vendors and square footage) than the weekly markets in Brooklyn. Despite not being heavily marketed, the event ended up attracting many thousands of people, far beyond our expectations. We reached capacity at the venue by 6pm—far quicker than expected—and it became clear that the thousands more waiting on line at that time were not going to get in. The only responsible decision, which we arrived at with SummerStage and the Police Department, was to disperse the crowd by being honest that entry just wasn’t going to be possible last night. We feel terrible that this event didn’t live up to the high standards we strive for with everything we do. This was a new type of event for us and SummerStage, and although we planned it very carefully in advance, the response simply exceeded anyone’s expectations. Please accept our sincere apology, and know that we’ll make sure everyone who wants to can enjoy our events in the future. Thank you.”
Of course, the problems were caused by a good thing: people obviously really want this food festival! So how about moving it to a bigger venue next time, or finding some better form of crowd control? Let’s hope these mistakes don’t lead the organizers to stay away.