Reflecting on Delaware's Ties to the FYRE Festival Failure

Plus, how to prevent a scam like this from happening to you.


Between Netflix and Hulu, it’s been difficult to escape the dueling films documenting the abject failure of 2017’s FYRE Festival.

The exclusive music and lifestyle event, sold to moneyed millennials as a luxury destination concert weekend on a sun-splashed private island, ended up worse than any camping experience imaginable. The scammed visitors arrived to find piles of mattresses and tents instead of luxury villas and ate cheese sandwiches instead of gourmet cuisine, while none of the promised A-list musical acts showed up. The aftermath has spawned lawsuits, jail time for organizer Billy McFarland, and a battle for who owns the truth of the failed festival.

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At the forefront of that fight is Mick Purzycki, son of Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki and the CEO of Jerry Media. If that name rings a bell, it’s because Jerry Media (known online as the meme-manufacturing site @F___Jerry—yes, that first bit is an unprintable F-word, to the mayor’s dismay) was the marketing company brought on to promote the festival via its powerful Instagram presence.

The younger Purzycki is listed on the Netflix doc, “FYRE: The Greatest Concert That Never Happened,” as an executive producer. What isn’t so explicit is that much of the footage used in the documentary was being shot by—wait for it—Jerry Media, in its capacity as event marketer. As a result, some have accused the filmmakers of minimizing Jerry Media’s participation in FYRE’s deceptive promotion and have offered the Hulu production “FYRE Fraud”—which features a former Jerry Media employee accusing his old bosses of being complicit in the scam—as a bit of journalistic balance.



Were investors conned? Was McFarland honestly trying to create something great, or just looking to rake in mountains of cash? Did Jerry Media realize it was pitching something transparently false, or was it working in good faith to promote an event in which it believed? Watch the docs and sort it out for yourself.

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The question we at Delaware Today have is why did people pay thousands of dollars for tickets for a music festival that seemed like a blatant scam?

To prevent this from happening to you, dear reader, we’ve developed a few things to keep an eye out for the next time something sounds too good to be true.

Seriously, what notable music festival has ever been held on an idyllic Caribbean island?

The Woodstock Music and Art Festival took place on a dairy farm in the town of Bethel, New York; The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is held at what is now Great Stage Park on a 650-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, and Delaware’s own Firefly Music Festival is held every June at Dover International Speedway, home of NASCAR, people.

Don’t believe the hype.

Sadly, the celebrity treatment is not within reach of the average man or woman. If the event is promising five-star food, iconic entertainment and penthouses swarming with supermodels, take pause. In the case of the FYRE Festival, all those hot models were “influencers” paid to Insta-bomb social media with promos for the event and promises that they’d be attending.

Beware the click bait.

  • Attendees were promised private yacht rentals, jet skis and a search for buried treasure. For the more Delaware-centric festival goer, here are some tempting teases that should be red flags:
  • All 77 rooms of the Nemours Estate are yours to primp, preen and douse yourself in glitter before the festivities begin.
  • A lifetime supply of Dogfish Head beer available for consumption.
  • Every square mile of the Delaware beaches will be closed to the public for the event.
  • Joe Biden (adorned in a Coachella-esque flower crown and signature aviator shades) will be your personal festival buddy, and he will feed you ice cream.


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Contributors: Danielle Bouchat-Friedman, Kaydee Jones and Scott Pruden

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