The Big Lebowski Fest Failure

Posted: November 5, 2010 in Culture, TV & Movies
Tags: , ,

$25 for tickets, $11 for parking, plus food, drink & back pain?

Launched in 2002 in Louisville, Kentucky Lebowski Fest is, according to the official website, “a celebration of all things related to the 1998 Coen brothers cult comedy, ‘The Big Lebowski.’ Fans of the film (aka ‘Achievers’) come from far and wide to drink white Russians, throw some rocks and party with an array of Dudes, Walters and Maudes (not to mention a nihilist or two).”

After months of anticipation, and enduring fee-related drama with Ticketmaster, my sister and I headed down to the Showbox in downtown Seattle to attend the first night of this two-day extravaganza. When all was said and done, however, I’m not even sure an entire pitcher of white Russians would have cured my disappointment.

The following is a letter of complaint addressed to the promoters of the Lebowski Fest fan event in October of 2010 in Seattle, WA.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to request a refund of $26, the cost for parking and other related expenses encountered while attending your failure of a Lebowski Fest event in Seattle, WA in October 2010.

When I first heard Lebowski Fest was coming to my hometown of Seattle, I was living in Cork, Ireland planning a trip home for the summer. Determined not to miss it this time around, I extended my trip into October leading to months of eager anticipation. Little did I know the whole experience would leave me feeling extremely Un-Dude.

My initial annoyance with the event began when I attempted to purchase tickets via Upon discovering I’d be required to pay $13+ in fees per ticket, I decided to avoid the rip off and take my chances at the door on the night. Note to organizers: Do not use Ticketmaster. When you advertise one price and your customer has to pay 60% more at the outlet, it makes you look bad too.

On the day, after paying the $11 for parking at a nearby lot, my sister and I arrived at the venue at 7pm when the doors were advertised, on your website, to open. The doorman advised us, however, that the venue wouldn’t open until 8pm and if we wanted to secure a place in line, we’d have to purchase something from the adjacent bar; my sister’s white Russian cost $7.50 as did my grilled cheese sandwich bringing our combined grand pre-ticket purchase total to $26.

Finally, shortly after 8pm when our group number (not a single place in line) was called, we bought our tickets and headed passed the souvenir stand (where I intended to blow a copious amount of cash) into the Showbox to find seats. Much to our surprise, here were the best options available:

  • Sitting on a hardwood floor in a large open area in front of the stage.
  • A single row of uncomfortable chairs surrounding the open floor several yards from the stage with the majority of views obscured by pillars, enormous concert-style speakers, and people.
  • A limited number of tables in the back of the venue with views of the stage completely obscured by the aforementioned pillars, speakers, and people.

For $25 per person, plus parking, plus a mandatory bar purchase, we were being offered two and a half hours of loud DJed music, a band and dance troupe we’ve never heard of and wouldn’t be able to see without obstruction, before we could watch the actual film which we also wouldn’t be able to see without obstruction? Perhaps if I wasn’t so heavily medicated at the time to slave off a migraine I could’ve drunk away my frustration, but instead I spent $11 to park, $15 on food and beverage, and $25 on a ticket to sit uncomfortably looking at pillars, speakers, and people.

When securing our ticket refunds I was told by Showbox staff that they wanted to seat this event, but the organizers refused. It is due to this complete lack of seating and overall consideration for your fans that we choose not to attend day two of the event as planned, and are requesting that our expenses of $26 be refunded as well. Had we know in advance we’d be asked to purchase food/drink to get in line to then pay $25 to deal with a badly organized event, we would’ve watched the Big Lebowski on DVD on the couch at home.


Natina Norton
Former Lebowski Fest Fan

  1. elsa says:

    Isn’t it the venue that decides whether or not Ticketmaster will be used? Not the individuals in charge of any one event? I’m pretty sure that’s the case, but I could be wrong.

    I think your valid complaint here is the seating. That sounds like a pain in the ass, literally and figuratively.

    However, everything else — the parking prices, the perceived obligation to buy a drink, the Ticketmaster issue, etc — doesn’t appear to have much to do with the LF organizers, but rather just the way events work. Instead, write a letter to the venue and request that they not work with Ticketmaster in the future.

    • natinanorton says:

      Thanks for the feedback!

      While the venue may work with Ticketmaster, the promoters can certainly request their event tickets be made available only through the venue. The promoters are also responsible for advertising and thus were to blame for the error in door time and, furthermore could have easily included the $13 in fees with the advertised price.

      As for the rest (parking prices, drinks, etc.) I honestly didn’t expect the promoters to offer a refund. These issues were mentioned more to illustrate the additional costs involved in attending their failure of an event. Also, the venue was certainly guilty of some shady business practices, pressuring patrons to spend more money to ensure decent hypothetical seating as well as overpriced beverages. At the same time, however, the Showbox were the ones who not only gave us a refund on the actual tickets, but explained that it was the Lebowski Fest promoters who refused their request to properly seat the event.

      Lack of proper, comfortable, unimpeded seating to accommodate everyone was the main issue really. Everything else was simply icing on the disappointment cake.

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