It feels like just yesterday the internet was (hilariously) freaking out over Fyre Festival, Ja Rule's much-hyped two-weekend "luxury" event in the Bahamas that quickly devolved into a post-apocalyptic nightmare complete with refugee tents, no food, cancelled flights, and general chaos. And over the weekend, the U.K. got a sort of Fyre Festival of its own (albeit more dairy-based) when attendees showed up to a Giant Cheeseboard Festival that promised unlimited cheese, but allegedly ran out of the goods after only 90 minutes. (Bustle has reached out to the festival for comment and will update upon response; they have since issued a statement writing, "If we felt that we had not provided any of the things included in your entry price then we'd be the first to hold our hands up and apologise but this is simply NOT the case!" The full statement is available below.)
Indeed, per the Giant Cheeseboard Festival's Facebook event page, the southeast London-based food fest was scheduled from Dec. 16 until Dec. 23, and promised to serve up "as much cheese & mulled wine as you like all day long" in exchange for its £30 ($40)-per-person entry fee. In addition to the aforementioned wine and boards with "Emmental, Red Leicester, Edam, Brie and every other cheese you can imagine," the event also boasted unlimited cider, DJs, cheesecake, vegan options, photo booths, fireplaces, and "giant mice who will help you navigate the Cheese Board," which ... sounds a little fishy, but OK. But attendees who arrived at the event's Studio 338 venue claimed to find "very average cheeses," cold mulled wine, and a projected image of a fireplace on a screen — not quite the life-changing cheese experience that was advertised.
Social media reports are ... lackluster, at best.
Attendees also reported having to wait on looooong lines to get into this unfulfilling feast, with some claiming doors to the event opened a full 40-to-90 minutes late.
People also complained that there were no utensils to serve the cheese, so attendees had to dig into the goods with their hands.
VICE reporter Hannah J. Davies attended the event, deeming it "some of the worst organisation seen since Ja Rule’s near-fatal Fyre Festival." In addition to the crappy cheese, Davies said the event offered very little of what it advertised:
Outside, the "garden of edam" was essentially one mega-queue for tepid mulled wine and cider (5 percent each) that may well have been actual urine. The zone marked "covered seating area" on the map was nothing more than a dirty tent, slowly turning in on itself as the wind and rain pissed down. Lots of people sat on the floor, but thankfully we managed to bag one of the damp school canteen tables. My friend Kate took this photo, which shows the festering pile of rubbish on our plates and, in the distance, a festering pile of rubbish right outside the tent. Yummo!
There was no sign of cheesecake or a halloumi burger shack, as promised, and the "giant chess set" (height: 4ft) had been kicked over, presumably by a disgruntled punter. As the day got darker, it became clear there was only one light in the tent: a halogen strip that gave the whole thing an "illegal police interrogation" feel.
And Daniel John Lynch, who was hired as one of the helpful "giant mice" previously advertised, told Mashable the event was just as much of a mess for the staff. "The whole thing was vile. From the way staff were treated to the storage of food and the presentation," he said. "There were only five standard cheeses available (none of which were vegan as advertised), the mulled wine and cider was lukewarm at best, but mostly cold." Lynch also said the staff were mostly "disengaged and constantly eating and drinking," and that attendees started chanting for a refund after realizing they'd been apparently duped. Lynch ended up ditching the event before his shift was up, he said.
Though some people say it seems like the Giant Cheeseboard Festival was a scam — Billy McFarland, who co-founded Fyre Festival, was actually charged with defrauding investors earlier this year — event organizers say they're getting a bad rap. They posted a screed to Facebook on December 17, claiming the cheeses were "sourced from some of the UK and Europe's best specialty cheese makers, dairies and farms," denied reports that they ran out of cheese, and admitted that while there was no advertised halloumi burger and camembert, it was because the chef fell ill unexpectedly. Their full statement is below.
This isn't the first time a food festival's been likened to Fyre. In September, people who paid $75-a-head to attend the New York City Pizza Festival in Brooklyn complained the event was a "total scam," with staff serving nothing but tiny slices of cold delivery pies and cheap warm red wine. The organizer of that event, Ishmael Osekre, claimed the festival's failure was due to his poor planning, and offered refunds.