Some are asking for refunds on the tickets they purchased to attend the appearance of Berry last Friday night, saying they were misled into thinking they were attending an evening listening to him and not a panel discussion dominated by others.
Berry reportedly was not happy with some of the program’s limitations. At one point he asked the moderator to tell one of his fellow panelists to “share the microphone.”
Some left the event early and voiced their anger in emails and posts to Facebook. Fragments from Floyd blogger Fred First was not openly critical of the way the evening went but noted “the disappointment hearing so little from Wendell Berry.”
Floyd’s Eco-Center hosted Berry for an autograph session earlier in the day and it drew long lines from those who wanted to meet the author. But the evening event left some dissatisfied. Some complain loudly in private conversations but clam up when asked to comment publicly.
The problem stems from what happens when private agendas and egos get in the way of a good intention. As a farmer, author and activist, Berry is a popular figure in the area. When he comes to town and admission is charged, people expect to see and hear him as the primary focus of an event.
Advance publicity for the event portrayed the evening as a talk by Berry. On his last visit to Floyd, he read from his books and had a lot to say. This time, he seemed somewhat perplexed by the format.
At the end of the evening, Berry noted that the night was not what he expected but he tried to end the evening on a positive note and talked about the importance of being a team and not trying to stand out individually. It was a message that is also a lesson. Only time will tell if it was a lesson learned.
Both Sustain Floyd and the Eco-Center say they will refund the ticket price for any attendee who let the event disappointed.