Most Festivals Immune To Foot-And-Mouth Disease

Reading and Leeds, T in the Park, V2001, others still going on as planned.

Longer lines at customs and banned beef aside, the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak — which has taken a severe toll on the United Kingdom's farming industry — is having only a negligible effect on the fabled summer festival season.

Many of the annual music productions have historically taken place on farmlands, where the disease is most prevalent. Foot-and-mouth disease is spread via air and direct or indirect contact with infected animals, and it has claimed the lives of scores of England's hoof-bearing livestock.

For most festivals, however, the show must go on, and they are charging full steam ahead or are pursuing alternate dates and venues in order to avoid canceling their events.

The massive Reading and Leeds festival will not be called off because of foot-and-mouth, a publicist insisted. Reading and Leeds is a joint festival that takes place simultaneously August 24 to 26 in Reading and Leeds, England.

This year's bill includes Eminem, Travis, Green Day, PJ Harvey, Queens of the Stone Age and Marilyn Manson. A full lineup is available at the Reading and Leeds Web site.

Another festival choosing to brave it is Scotland's T in the Park. Among the 50-plus acts on this year's bill are Weezer, Coldplay, David Gray and Nelly Furtado. Pete Tong, Carl Craig and Doc Martin are among those scheduled for the dance-oriented side tent.

Big Day Out, the organizers of T in the Park, are monitoring the foot-and-mouth situation closely, a festival official said. "Planning is going ahead at the usual pace, as it must to ensure that the festival can take place in three-and-a-half months' time," Lee Beattie said. "As planning progresses, organizers will continue to take all responsible and appropriate steps to ensure the success of the event in its eighth year."

Since 1994, the festival's inaugural year, T in the Park's featured performers have included Blur, Oasis, Björk and Rage Against the Machine.

Also still going on as planned is V2001, featuring such acts as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Foo Fighters (see "Foo Fighters, Chili Peppers To Play V2001"). The event, now in its second year, will take place the weekend of August 18-19 in England.

Meanwhile, over in the world of dance-music festivals, the 17-hour Homelands show featuring Pulp, Orbital, Danny Tenaglia and Roni Size will still descend on Hampshire, England, on May 26. A full lineup is available at the Homelands Web site.

Other festivals, like the dance-centric Creamfields, are still proceeding as planned but are playing it safe by avoiding the farmlands. Fatboy Slim and Gorillaz will headline the August 21 Creamfields show.

"We're really lucky. Where [Creamfields will take place] is the old Liverpool airfield, which is, obviously, within city boundaries," organizer Jim King said. "The only issues people have had have been [because their festival would be] on farmland or grazing land. So we've been really fortunate that it doesn't have any impact on us."

The Essential festival is opting to move it rather than lose it. Essential normally takes place on an expanse of farmland in Brighton, England, but this year it has moved to a less risky location within London city limits. On July 14-15, Stereo MC's, Isaac Hayes, Goldie, Public Enemy and others will romp on London's Hackney Marshes.

The fifth annual Bishopstock, the folkiest member of the U.K. festival bunch, is rescheduling its lineup of acts including Van Morrison, Taj Mahal and Susan Tedeschi.

"In the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis, we have been forced to reschedule this year's event to the August bank holiday, August 25th, 26th, 27th, 2001," a statement on the Bishopstock Web site read. "Devon (the site of Bishopstock) has been one of Britain's worst hit areas, and Bishopstock is at the heart of a community whose very existence has been at threat."

The effects of the breakout have not been confined to the United Kingdom. Roskilde, the Danish festival that was struck by tragedy last year when nine attendees were killed after a stage rush (see "UPDATE: Pearl Jam Performance Struck By Tragedy"), has called off the annual cattle show portion of this year's event.

This year's Roskilde festival, scheduled for June 28 to July 1, will feature performances by more than 100 artists, including Beck, Deftones, Bob Dylan, PJ Harvey and Robbie Williams.

Holland's 20-year-old Dynamo metal festival has had to call off this year's show because of foot-and-mouth concerns in the city of Lichtenvoorde, where the concert was to be held.

"Last Friday Lichtenvoorde withdrew the permit out of fear of spreading foot-and-mouth disease," read a statement on the Dynamo Web site. "It is impossible to find an alternative festival site in such a short time."

Dynamo, featuring such bands as Slipknot, Papa Roach and Motörhead, was to have taken place May 24 to 26.

Glastonbury organizers have cancelled their concert plans, but not for foot-and-mouth reasons (see "Glastonbury Festival Taking Year Off To Deal With Crowds"). Past Glastonbury shows have featured such acts as Radiohead, the Cure, Elvis Costello, Velvet Underground, New Order and the Pixies playing on 400 acres of farmland.

"The decision not to hold a festival was made many months ago before foot-and-mouth became an issue," said Dick Vernon, office manager for the Glastonbury Festival. Organizers said Glastonbury will return next year.