Ticket holders out of luck after Lantern Fest changes date, location
Posted September 26
Updated September 28
Fayetteville, N.C. — A lantern festival originally planned for Fayetteville in less than two weeks has been rescheduled, and the company behind it isn't offering refunds to ticket holders.
The Lantern Fest was scheduled to be held Oct. 7 in Fayetteville. However, ticket holders were notified Tuesday via the event website and Facebook that the festival had been moved to November and will be held more than an hour away in Goldsboro.
"The Lantern Fest team has been looking forward to bringing magic to Fayetteville all year long. Unfortunately, due to a new local law in the city of Fayetteville, we are unable to bring the event to you this year. We have automatically transferred your tickets to the Lantern Fest: Goldsboro event on Nov. 11. Thank you for understanding, and we look forward to seeing you there," organizers wrote on Facebook.
The Lantern Fest features music, dancing, s'mores and biodegradable lanterns that are released into the night sky. The event is held across the country and is presented by Sack Lunch Productions, the same company behind Slide the City.
Allison Paugh purchased tickets to the Fayetteville event as a second wedding anniversary gift to her husband, who recently returned home from deployment.
"He missed so many important events in our lives while being gone. I wanted to celebrate him and our lives together in a magical way. I was very excited to share this event with him as a surprise, but now my heart is broken," Paugh said. "I was really upset."
Paugh, like many others, has requested a refund, but Sack Lunch Productions isn't budging on its "no refund" policy.
"When it comes to refunds, unfortunately, like major sporting events and concerts, refunds are only issued when an event is canceled, not transferred," the company has responded on Facebook. Ticket holders unable to attend the Goldboro event are being encouraged to sell their tickets.
Calls and emails to Sack Lunch Productions have not been returned.
The Fayetteville fire marshal said the North Carolina Fire Prevention Code added a ban on sky lanterns on January 1. The code reads, "a person shall not release or cause to be released an untethered sky lantern." That means sky lanterns would not be permitted anywhere in the state, not just Fayetteville.
The Mayor of Fayetteville Nat Robertson said he wants the state Attorney General's office to look into the company.
Lantern Fest was held in 2015 and 2016 at Fayetteville Motor Speedway. The event was also held in Gaston in May 2015 at Carolina Speedway, but caused a reported $500,000 in damage when several lanterns got wedged in a nearby cell tower causing wiring and insulation to ignite, according to the Gaston Gazette. No one was injured, and organizers told the newspaper the event was an overall success.