Mudtopia Loses Council Support, May Not Return, After Low Revenue from First Year

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The Rotorua Lakes Council has voted to no longer back Mudtopia.


The council’s Operations and Monitoring Committee unanimously voted to no longer own the Mudtopia festival. Held in December last year, Mudtopia was New Zealand’s inaugural mud festival – a three-day festival of mud-based events and musical acts.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the event will be cancelled, as the council is open to new owners and will potentially still provide a venue. It was recommended the council should continue to explore options for others to run it.

Event Engine, named as the event specialist behind Mudtopia, isn’t mentioned in the latest news. It’s unclear if they’re still attached as managing the event.

Event Promotions, organisers of the Tough Guy and Gal series of races in New Zealand, were bought onboard to run the mud run portion of the festival. It’s unclear if they’re still attached for a return of the event.

Mudtopia was plagued with negative publicity and low financial returns.

The total loss for the event was $570,387, plus $170,000 of capital expenses. Revenue, sponsorship, and the number of tickets sold were all worse than projections.

The festival was expected to become self-sustaining, but low financial performance lead to the council voting to cancel the current council-owned model.

Mudtopia’s negative publicity in brief

Negative publicity was blamed as a major reason for Mudtopia’s failure. Let’s recap what happened:

  • Despite the festival “highlighting the story of mud in Rotorua with a spa and wellness expo”, Mudtopia planned to import mud into Rotorua
  • The mud powder was to be imported from South Korea, a country with a recent foot and mouth outbreak
  • Rate payer and tax payer money would have partially paid for the mud

A PR nightmare resulted, leading to public outcry and negative publicity for Mudtopia. The deal was eventually cancelled. Although ticket sales, sponsorship and other funding were all negatively affected.

Time of year and high fixed costs were also cited as reasons for the low financial performance of the event.

Let us know if you enjoyed Mudtopia!

Let us know how the mud run was? Would you attend Mudtopia next time if it was to return?

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