COLUMBIA, MD: Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2013 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. September 21, 2013. ? Brandon Wu / for the Washington City Paper.

Once upon a time, it wasn’t fall until Merriweather Post Pavilion welcomed a slate of buzzy bands and EDM purveyors to play a free show for what seemed like half of D.C.’s under-25 population and all of its flower-crown wearers.

Those days are over—-at least for now. Virgin Mobile USA announced today that Virgin Mobile FreeFest will not return to the Columbia, Md., venue this year.

Instead, where the company once asked concertgoers (particularly those who missed the free ticket giveaway or wanted VIP access) to donate money and time to nonprofits like the Sasha Bruce RE*Generation House, Virgin will now make a “significant” donation to the organization separate from any entertainment event.

But according to Seth Hurwitz, I.M.P. chairman and Merriweather’s operator, this might not be the end of the big annual freebie.

“The Freefest was this fantastic product of a crossroads of [Virgin Group founder 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,” wrote Hurwitz in a statement to the Post and the Baltimore Sun. “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.”

Virgin Festival was held at Pimlico Race Course for three years before going gratis and moving to Merriweather for the past five. Next stop—-the moon?

Photo by Brandon Wu

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