Was ZNA Gathering the Fyre festival of Portugal?

By Daisy Sampson, in World · 30-08-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Claims of insanitary conditions, fly ridden toilets next to food areas, luxury tepees that consisted of little more than an air mattress and an illness that led to many party goers suffering from sickness and diarrhoea have left festival goers comparing the ZNA Gathering to the infamous Fyre Festival of 2017.

Martin, who had attended the festival, located two hours inland from Lisbon near to Ponte de Sor, with 12 of his friends from Denmark, told The Portugal News that 10 of his group had fallen ill at the festival and that conditions there were very poor.

“The organisers were telling people that it was a virus but the food areas were insanitary and right next to them there were toilets filled with flies.

“It was very hot during the festival and we didn’t see adequate conditions for keeping food cool or good health and hygiene practices. There seemed to be no control over the food at all.”

“I would estimate that around half of the people at the festival became ill and we even saw some people being taken away in ambulances,” he added.

Many others reported being ill at the event on Facebook including Pedro Carvalho, who is on Facebook said to be the Visual Arts Director, Promoter and site manager/Architect of ZNA Gathering. He wrote on Facebook that the water at the festival was not the problem, which had been muted in various comments online, and put the illness down to a “perfect storm” of factors.

“We are still investigating, but a virus is the most probable explanation. This along with the heat wave, the general lack of hygiene, the shared cigarettes, the shared drinks…The sleepless nights, the fatigue.”

He continued to state that the staff at the festival were some of the first to fall ill and this in turn led to a shortage in staff that led the organisers “unable to respond to all the arising problems”

He added that he too was personally still “feeling the strong effects of the virus, stuck to a bed”. And that the criticism levelled at the organisers was made up of “ill information, blind hatred and misinformation.”

The Facebook event page for the festival, which took place between 19 and 26 August, has become the unofficial forum for visitors and organisers to share their experiences of the event and while many have spoken of having a positive experience, a large number have also spoken not only about the illness that swept the site, but also of other problems.

Morten Hvide Ejass wrote on the page about paying €1,000 for a luxury tepee at the event: “We bought a tepee, it was sold as luxury, but when we arrived it was dirty, a flat air mattress, no light or soap as promised, was NOT worth 1000 euro and was a total rip off.”

Denise Gallin wrote on the page about her experience as a volunteer with her 15 and 22 year old sons at the event, she highlighted that volunteers were given no tools to pick up litter, leading to back pain, that the campsite for volunteers was located beside the main stage “making it impossible to relax ever” and leading to a “total lack of sleep resulting in exhaustion” and that the volunteers were working six hour shifts in the “insane heat”.

“I was hoping for a mini utopia but found a mini Bangladesh...I hope it will be different next time!!!! People over profit!!!”, she wrote on the Facebook page.

Diogo Borges wrote on Facebook that for €180 for a ticket he had expected more, adding that the bathrooms were “disgusting”.

Simon Pedro simply posted a photo of the advertised tepees as shown on the official website with pictures of how they actually were when campers arrived, with the caption “Fyre festival, ZNA Version (top photo promised, bottom photo what you get) 1000 euros well done.”

The ZNA Gathering official page posted a comment on Facebook in response to all of the claims about the festival.

“We know that for most of the people these were amazing days but we also know that we faced some problems that perturbed the experience to others. So, we would like to point out some rumours and misunderstandings without the propose to turn our backs on our responsibilities as the organisers.

“Unfortunately for the 1st time ever we were attacked by a virus that spread among our dancers in the last couple of days. This gastroenteritis DID NOT come from our tap water neither from our food-court. We are a very responsible Organisation and would never compromise the health and safety of our public and our own…The heat wave of the last week together with tiredness and the reducing of our immune system may have been the reasons that helped this outside “visit” to become more strong as the days pass by.”

The statement concluded: “We know it´s quite difficult to overcome such an experience specially if you were affected but there is a part of us that is so proud of this edition - specially when we see smiles and a dance floor like this…”

Pedro Carvalho concluded: “If you all think this was just a case of neglect and commercialism, think again. Nothing is worse for “business” than an epidemic and we did our possible best to deal with it.”


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