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'A couple of people behind us just dropped': Knotfest attendees describe hours-long lines for water

KCCI Des Moines logo KCCI Des Moines 9/27/2021
knotfest © Provided by KCCI Des Moines knotfest

Knotfest 2021, a music festival celebrating one of Iowa's most famous bands, brought more than 30,000 people to a field outside Indianola Saturday, but multiple attendees described hours-long lines for water that led to some concertgoers fainting due to dehydration.

The festival, which took place at the National Balloon Classic Field, is named after heavy metal band Slipknot, which hails from Des Moines and headlined the festival.

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KCCI spoke to numerous attendees who lamented long lines at Knotfest, particularly for water.

Mary Capron drove to Central Iowa from Nebraska and paid $100 per ticket to attend the festival.

"You had to wait in line for two hours to get any water," Capron said.

CJ Dennis, of Topeka, Kansas, had the same experience.

"They had a single water tent that sold non-alcoholic beverages, including bottled water, for 30,000 people," Dennis said. "That just blew my mind."

Capron and Dennis said festivalgoers were not allowed to bring in their own food or beverages and said they witnessed fellow attendees passing out due to dehydration as they waited in line.

"A couple of people behind us (in line) just dropped," Dennis said.

A number of people shared similar experiences in public Facebook posts, and a video, taken during the event, shows people in line chanting "we want water!"

Capron and Dennis said most people were unaware of alternative sites to get water because they weren't well-advertised.

"There were no signs showing where refillable water stations were and I went back and looked on the map," Capron said. "They didn't even have it marked on the map."

Both said the clustering of food and beverage vendors exacerbated the long lines.

"It was not spread out," Capron said. "Many festivals that we went to in the past, you had one stage on one end, one stage on the other and the food and beverages were spread out all over the place. I mean, (at Knotfest) you were in a line and you didn't even know what you were standing in line for."

"It was not ergonomically designed," Dennis said.

A spokesperson for Mammoth Productions, the company behind the event, acknowledged shortcomings in a statement released to KCCI Sunday.

"In preparation for this inaugural event, Mammoth Productions engaged with one of Iowa’s largest concessionaires who manages many large events and numerous concerts to ensure a positive guest experience," the statement read in part. "We acknowledge this was not achieved and we too are disappointed. We strive for excellence in all aspects of events and will continue to do so."

"We are pleased that we were able to bring such a popular event to Iowa, entertaining and employing thousands in the process," the statement continued. "We appreciate all the artists, our partners, and mostly - the fans that purchased tickets. We look forward to building on this event and bringing Knotfest back to Iowa again in the future."

Capron and Dennis said one of the most disappointing aspects of the festival was not seeing Slipknot. They said they were among a group of festivalgoers who felt they had no choice but to leave the event before they had the chance to see the legendary band play.

"We were just so exhausted," Capron said. "I think we might have heard Slipknot when we were almost to our car a mile and a half down the road."

"I took my health over staying at the festival," Dennis said.

KCCI asked a spokesperson for the Indianola Fire Department if the agency had any statistics on how many incidents it responded to at the festival. We haven't heard back as of Sunday evening.

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