Patrons watch the first Suffolk Riverfront Jazz Festival in July 2012. The second such event was set for this weekend but abruptly canceled on Thursday. Organizers said ticket sales were not sufficient to support the event, which was set to benefit a nonprofit organization helping female veterans.
Patrons watch the first Suffolk Riverfront Jazz Festival in July 2012. The second such event was set for this weekend but abruptly canceled on Thursday. Organizers said ticket sales were not sufficient to support the event, which was set to benefit a nonprofit organization helping female veterans.

Archived Story

Jazz festival canceled

Published 10:06pm Thursday, July 25, 2013

A jazz festival set for this weekend in Suffolk has been canceled because of slow ticket sales, organizers stated in an email sent out Thursday morning.

The Suffolk Riverfront Jazz Festival, which would have benefited the Gladys Gatlin Foundation — an organization that helps female veterans — was set to be held at the Hilton Garden Inn on East Constance Road. Performances lined up had included names like Dianne Reeves, Jeff Lorber, Maestro J and Julian Vaughn.

“In spite of bringing an awesome line-up to Hampton Roads, we regret to inform you that the ticket sales were not strong enough to support the festival,” organizers wrote in the email. “Therefore, the festival has been canceled.”

In the emailed letter, executive director Aubrey Wilson suggested some would-be guests thought the price was too high compared to jazz festivals in Richmond and Norfolk. Wilson blamed the price differential on the fact that those festivals have big-name sponsors, something Suffolk Riverfront Jazz had been unable to obtain “through no lack of diligence.”

General admission tickets for each evening of performances in Suffolk were $68.50 per person, with a two-ticket minimum purchase. VIP tickets, which included preferred seating and a buffet dinner, were $92.50 each evening with a two-ticket minimum.

Tickets to Norfolk’s festival, held last weekend, were $28 each day for Friday and Saturday and $20 on Sunday. A three-day combo ticket was $49.

Tickets to Richmond’s festival, set for Aug. 8-11, are going for $60 each night for the big performance nights or $110 for the entire weekend.

Wilson wrote that Suffolk’s price was “great for the lineup that was presented,” but the festival “has yet to receive critical undergirding financial sponsorship dollars, thus ensuring the success of the festival independent of ticket sales.”

“We do believe that this event should have been quite successful as last year’s festival,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the ticket sales didn’t reflect the same.”

Wilson did not return phone messages and emails Thursday seeking information on whether and how refunds will be issued. As of Thursday afternoon, the website for the event — www.suffolkriverfrontjazz.com — did not reflect the cancellation.

A Facebook post from the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront Hotel and Conference Center carried news of the cancellation and offered “packages for jazz patrons who have reserved rooms for this weekend to accommodate the situation the best we can.”

Brian Williams, manager of the Hilton Garden Inn, had not returned a message by Thursday evening.

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  • snookums

    Suffolk does not have the market to support an event such as this. Norfolk/ Richmond are much larger markets. Let’s face it, Suffolk is still considered a rural Podunk with a population under 100k.
    Also, downtown does not have the affluent communities. Harbour View does and can also pull from Norfolk/ Va Beach

    Suggest Removal

  • mab1960

    On our budget the price of two tickets equates to 2 weeks worth of groceries…in this economy we just don’t have the disposable income like we did 6 years ago. It would have been nice to attend but it just was not practical.

    Suggest Removal

  • jvaaia

    I think that the implied competition between the successful TGIF event and a ticketed Jazz Festival made the latter appear to be not worth the price of the ticket. It’s a shame, I considered going but the prices were high and a 2 ticket minimum made it out of reach.

    Suggest Removal

  • fingertothenose

    Suffolk would be wise to hire someone who knows Suffolk and knows event and entertainment production to produce events in city venues. The arts center and the Hilton space are not being used well…and the potential is there and the people are in Suffolk that can do it

    Suggest Removal

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