Music Festivals

ARISE Abruptly Cancels 2022 Festival Two Weeks Before Event

"The Cradle," the location where ARISE was supposed to be held, near Boone, Colorado.
"The Cradle," the location where ARISE was supposed to be held, near Boone, Colorado. ARISE Music Festival
The ARISE Music Festival is no stranger to tumultuous situations. A little over two years ago, it split with Sunrise Ranch, the sprawling, 400-acre compound run by Emissaries of Divine Light, after two of its founders, Tierro Lee and Paul Bassis, departed from the project, leaving it in the hands of event producer Luke Comer. With the pandemic looming, this left the festival's future up in the air.

However, ARISE regrouped and purchased a 1,000-acre organic farm in Boone. Here, Comer promised to provide a world-class, transcendental experience. “Because ARISE owns the property," he stated at the time, "we are able to master plan for our future — to create, over time, a festival that is functional, innovative and beautiful, and that provides our patrons with one of the most epic and uplifting experiences on earth. For this and other reasons, we are calling our new home ‘The Cradle.'”

The Cradle seemed like an upgrade from the previous location, with more space, less dust, and shade, things that the previous Loveland location struggled with. But two weeks before the festival was set to premiere in its new location this Memorial Day weekend, the Pueblo County Planning Department canceled its special event application for unknown reasons, according to the festival’s organizers. Now the event is canceled permanently.

The festival posted this statement on its Facebook page:  “With less than two weeks until we are to ARISE together, it is with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of ARISE Music Festival. Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, we have been forced to cancel the festival scheduled to take place this Memorial Day weekend. Countless hours, thought, energy and effort have gone into cultivating the vision for ARISE while honoring the festival community that helped create it. Ultimately, Pueblo County Planning Department canceled our special event application because the Pueblo Sheriff and CDOT did not approve the festival for reasons that are not clear.

"Over the past two years, ARISE Music Festival has been presented with numerous challenges: loss of the special event permit in Larimer County; producers going their separate ways; a worldwide pandemic; and a community scattered. Despite the challenges, festival owner and producer Luke Comer has remained committed to revitalizing the festival as an innovative, beautiful and intentional experience. The cancellation of ARISE is not the future that the festival had hoped to confront. After almost ten years in production, it is with a heavy heart that the festival must shut its doors permanently. Every employee, artist, vendor, partner and ticket buyer will be impacted, so this decision has been excruciating to make.

"We remain humbled by your love and grateful for 12 years of support, enlightenment, healing, music, art and community. Be well, stay positive and spread your light to others.

"All refunds for ARISE Music Festival will be issued in as little as 30 days. Questions regarding refunds can be submitted at contact.frontgatetickets.com or emailed to [email protected]

ARISE was set to host performances by Alison Wonderland, Galactic, Big Wild, Papadosio, Beats Antique, The Polish Ambassador, J. Boog, Manic Focus and more. Workshops, speakers and yoga classes were also scheduled.

With less than two weeks to the start of the festival, many people already had travel plans, with one commenter stating, “What the hell?? My sister spent over 5k to fly me and my brother across the country so we could all meet for a week and it would be our first festival together in over a decade. This is the most sad news I've ever heard.”

In a statement posted to ARISE's website, Comer says that the cancellation was not the result of practical reasons, but rather political motivations. “I feel that Arise provided all these agencies with the information they needed to make their decision," he wrote, "but two of them just did not make any decision at all. I believe the Sheriff stonewalled the festival, not for reasons of public safety, but for cultural prejudice, and others supported him. I feel I was denied my constitutional rights related to property values (as I own the property) and freedom of assembly. If these agencies approved our festival, instead of just delaying, we were on course to lay the foundation for one of the best festivals in the world.”

Comer also suggests that this isn’t the first time the government has infringed on his constitutional rights: “This is the third time in recent years that Arise has been damaged and ultimately destroyed by the whims and bureaucracies of government, with two and maybe three of those incidents coming from law enforcement," he says. "The freedom to assemble is a constitutional right, especially when conducted on your own property. However, when seeking Special Event Permits, the government becomes involved, and especially law enforcement who then have concerning levels of power to cancel festivals based on their discretion. Many in law enforcement do not like the ideas of festival culture — and so make our operation difficult.”

Westword reached out to Comer and Pueblo County Planning and Development for additional comment.
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