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Scorpio Nabs Hultsfred

08:01 AM Friday 1/14/11 |   |

German promoter FKP Scorpio appears to have saved Hultsfred Festival from the scrapheap and will revive the bankrupt Swedish event with the help of its former entertainment booker, Gunnar Lagerman.

Scorpio chief Folkert Koopmans bought the naming rights in an online auction run by the official receiver in November. He’s since reached an agreement with the local council to stage the event for at least three years.

“I don’t know if we will be able to start in 2011 because it’s already a little late to do that,” Koopmans told Pollstar. He’s expanded further into Scandinavia by adding to the Northside Festival that he started in Denmark in 2010.

He also said the Hultsfred site, which is in a forested region near Lake Hulingen in eastern Sweden, is the most naturally beautiful festival ground he’s seen.

Last year Rockparty – the company behind Hultsfred – had to throw in the towel two days before what would have been its 25th anniversary because ticket sales were 8,000 short of the breakeven mark. It had sold 5,000 tickets but needed to do 13,000.

A decade ago it was the country’s most prestigious festival and one of its largest, regularly pulling crowds in excess of 30,000 per day.

Rockparty chairman Tony Bohlin said that going ahead with the 2010 event could have put the company in court for continuing to trade while insolvent.

The bankrupt company’s affairs are now being wound up by Bengt Stridh from Swedish commercial law firm Glimstedt, who recently stunned the live music business by trying to get the canceled acts to return their deposits on the grounds that they didn’t actually perform.

It was important to Koopmans to gain the support of the Hultsfred Kommun, the local authority that in December 2009 ploughed 24 million Swedish kronor ($3.49 million) into the event in a bid to keep it afloat.

After spending two decades as Hultsfred booker, at the end of 2003 Lagerman quit the festival to fulfil a lifelong ambition to be a market gardener. He bought a house and 3,000 square metres of greenhouse space at Gryt, 200 kilometres north of Stockholm on the Swedish Baltic coast.

He’s since made the occasional foray back into the music business, most recently in 2009 when he was programmer of Stockholm Jazz Festival.

Koopmans intends a steady start for Hultsfred. Lagerman and probably one assistant will set up a local festival office in Sweden.

As with Northside, which he runs in cahoots with Brian Nielsen from Århus-based Skandinavian, Koopmans will try a small festival in the first year and hope to grow it in the second and third.

His German festivals include Hurricane, Southside, Highfield, Area 4, Chiemsee Reggae and M’Era Luna. He also has Greenfield Festival in Switzerland.

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