Virgin Mobile FreeFest scrubbed

In this Sept. 21, 2013 file photo, Lauren Mayberry of the electronic band Chvrches performs in concert during the 2013 Virgin Mobile FreeFest at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. Jake Bugg isn\'t the only British star headed for the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival this week. There\'s a mini-British Invasion of sorts going on Thursday, June 12, 2014, through Sunday, with acts including Blake, The Arctic Monkeys, Sam Smith, Chvrches, and others, in Manchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, file)

WASHINGTON — One of the region’s most popular music festivals — Virgin Mobile FreeFest — won’t take place this summer at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Howard County.

Virgin Mobile hasn’t explained its decision to cancel the concert.

Last year, the free concert that drew a sell-out crowd of 50,000, despite rain. The lineup included Robin Thicke, MGMT and Vampire Weekend. The concert, over the years, has featured different genres of music.

Every year the concert’s free tickets were released online, and others some for just under $50 and included a donation to the Sasha Bruce RE*Generation House homeless youth shelter in D.C.

The company says instead of the concert, it will make a significant donation to help fight youth homelessness.

For its first three years, Pimlico Race Course hosted the concert before organizers scaled it down and moved to Merriweather in 2009.

Concert-goers have donated more than 75,000 volunteer hours, more than 30,000 in- kind donations and more than $1 million for RE*Generation nonprofit partners since 2008, concert organizers say.

Seth Hurwitz, who runs Merriweather, says Merriweather is looking into bringing the show back.

He released this statement to the Baltimore Business Journal:

“The Freefest was this fantastic product of a crossroads of [Virgin Group founder Sir Richard] Branson and some very creative people at Virgin. The mixture got shaken up every year, and it always settled at the last possible moment for that year. That was part of the spontaneous magic that everyone could pick up on I think.

“Unfortunately, the pieces are not all there right now with Virgin. Whether they are again who knows. But the FreeFest concept is fantastic and we are exploring options to continue it at Merriweather.”

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