Texas Renaissance Festival Declines to Invite Middlelands Back Next Year [UPDATED]

The castle is closed, EDM fans.
The castle is closed, EDM fans. Photo by Jack Gorman
click to enlarge The castle is closed, EDM fans. - PHOTO BY JACK GORMAN
The castle is closed, EDM fans.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Beset by its neighbors' noise, traffic and other complaints (as predicted), the Texas Renaissance Festival has declined to invite the Middlelands electronic-music festival, which drew more than 60,000 fans to its grounds earlier this month, back next year. According to KHOU, the festival’s GM, Terre Albert, released the following statement earlier Friday:

TRF is always looking for new ways to bring fun and magic to the Houston area, which is why we partnered with Insomniac, C3 Events and Live Nation, to create the Middlelands music festival on our grounds. Middlelands was a great success and brought over 60,000 people to the area from all over the country and the world. However, after a meeting with executive leadership and based on Texas Renaissance Festival’s overall mission, we’ve have made the decision to not move forward in hosting the event again.

Wednesday, the City of Magnolia was scheduled to host a Town Hall meeting for residents of the community to air their grievances about the festival. That meeting was canceled but residents showed up anyway and refused to leave, KHOU reported. Representatives of Insomniac were supposed to attend the meeting but did not show up, the station added. Pasquale Rotella, the festival's founder, countered Friday on social media that he had flown to Houston, only to learn from TRF officials that the meeting had been canceled.

While those who attended Middlelands (including our reviewer) said overall the event ran remarkably smoothly, especially for a first-year festival, neighbors complained about nonstop loud music from Thursday night through Monday morning – loud enough that it shook the ground at her house, one said – public drug use and intoxication, and unresponsive law-enforcement officials.

“Ren Faire shuts off at a certain time. This was from 4 p.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Monday. You could physically feel the noise,” one resident, Charla Ward, told the Houston Press last week.

Later Friday, the Middlelands producers replied with a statement of their own:

We were very surprised and disappointed by the decision announced by the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF) to no longer host Middlelands (MDL) at the Texas Renaissance Festival Fair Grounds. From the beginning, MDL producers set out to create a safe and enjoyable experience for both attendees and residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, with hopes to stimulate the growing local economy. Contrary to news reports, the producers of MDL traveled to Houston for the Town Hall meeting but were subsequently told it was cancelled by TRF officials. We fully appreciate the beauty of Todd Mission and the nearby areas, and were prepared to implement residents’ feedback in order to transform MDL into a valued community event. An astounding 66,000 guests attended the inaugural MDL festival, with many sharing their positive experiences. To our fans, rest assured we plan to return.

Pasquale Rotella, the festival's founder, elaborated further in the following Instagram post.

IMPORTANT @MiddlelandsFest UPDATE: Happy to say we received an incredible amount of positive feedback and support from attendees and many local businesses. Thanks and love to all of you! We did experience some issues with sound complaints in the community, but these are not problems that are isolated to our shows. These are normal growing pains for any first-time festival... and there are always solutions. I flew to Houston with the intention of speaking to the community face to face in a Town Hall meeting. To spend three hours on a plane only to be told on arrival by a TRF official that they were cancelling the meeting is disappointing to say the least. Despite what the media is saying, I showed up, as I always do. I will always fight to the end for our culture. This is not the end of Middlelands. We will be back! Here’s a pic of me and #RainbowAuroraRotella rocking out on the Bassrush stage!! #footloose

A post shared by Pasquale Rotella (@pasqualerotella) on

In other, happier RenFest-related news, adult tickets will be on sale for $10.95, 65 percent off the regular price, during its annual “Sale of the Century” from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow. Find tickets at this link.
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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray