WASHINGTON — The Something in the Water Festival was announced to make its way to D.C. for the Juneteenth weekend, but some in the D.C. community are concerned about accessibility to the highly anticipated event because of the price of tickets.
Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated with the Ballou High School marching band when Pharrell Williams announced his star-studded festival was coming to D.C.
"No matter who you are as a human being you're welcome to have fun with us," Pharrell said at the kickoff event April 26.
That fun is free for the students at Ballou High School, but their friends and family may have to fork over hundreds of dollars to attend.
The tickets for the three-day festival start at $299 plus taxes and fees, which adds up to around $350 for Tier 1 passes. The prices of the tickets are divided into tiers with there being five total. Tickets can be up to $549.50 including fees, according to the SITW website.
However, as of Thursday, the Tier 1 pass, which is the least expensive is currently sold out.
"Black people in D.C., especially D.C. natives, cannot afford $350 to go stand on a Mall that our ancestors that were enslaved built," said Nee Nee Taylor of Harriet's Wildest Dreams, a Black-led abolitionist group.
The three-day festival is planned for June 17-19 on the National Mall with more than 60 musical acts including D.C.'s own go-go bands Rare Essence and the Backyard Band. The festival coincides with the Juneteenth holiday, which marks the emancipation of enslaved Africans. The day has historically involved free concerts and celebrations in D.C.
"So why can't Black families and local people in D.C. be able to party and enjoy a concert?" Taylor asked.
The festival, which traditionally was held in Pharrell's hometown of Virginia Beach, cost concertgoers about $150 in 2019 - that's $200 less than the cost of general admission here in D.C. We reached out to event sponsor Events DC and festival organizers about the price difference and are still waiting for a response.
A spokesperson from the mayor's office says they don't set the price but are offering a discount for D.C. residents who purchase tickets on Saturday, April 30 only. Those D.C. Locals Only tickets are available in person at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. That Saturday-only sale waives the $50 fee.
Virginia residents have access to a Virginia Locals Only presale taking place Friday, April 29 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in person at the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach box office, (restricted to Virginia ZIP Codes). The $50 fee is waived for the in-person purchase.
All tickets will be available for the rest of the public to purchase on Saturday, April 30 starting at 10 a.m.
Also, a loyalty discount was offered for previous attendees of the Something In The Water festival -- previous concertgoers should have received a loyalty discount code as of April 28.
The discounts aren't enough for Taylor, though, who is organizing another event on Juneteenth.
"I actually put a challenge out to the activists and organizers as an advocate of D.C. because I'm a DC native, and I want to have a free water concert on June 19. And bring Black people together, bring your children down. And let's do this for free," she said.
"Let's celebrate us as we continue to fight for freedom."