The days of a hip-hop fest have come and gone at Paramount’s Kings Dominion.
Black Entertainment Television and the theme park have discontinued their annual College Hip-Hop Fest, which featured big-name rap, hip hop and music talent and drew students from historically black colleges up and down the East Coast.
According to a news release, a decline in attendance was the primary reason for the spring event’s demise after seven years.
“We are disappointed but unfortunately, the number of students participating has declined to the point where it doesn’t make sense for us to host it,” said Richard A. Zimmerman, executive vice president and general manager of Kings Dominion.
The statement made no mention of two fatal shootings in the past two years related to after-concert partying.
Last year, three people were shot – one fatally – after the daylong festival.
Two men were shot in the Kings Dominion parking lot during a fight as thousands of people were leaving the theme park in Hanover County.
Later that night, 20-year-old Ka-Mel Loftin of Chesterfield County was fatally shot in the head in the 300 block of East Broad Street. He was one of thousands of people who drove from the theme park to downtown Richmond for late-night partying.
This year, Hanover assigned 100 deputies to work inside the theme park and in its parking lot. And in Richmond, police were out in droves with three or four times the regular number of patrol officers.
In addition, event planners made admission more difficult by requiring a valid college ID to purchase tickets at the theme park.
But even with the extra security, another man was killed in Richmond after the event.
Jose Andujar, 21, a Virginia State University student from New York City, was fatally shot in the head at about 1:10 a.m. as he sat in the driver’s seat of a red Ford Explorer. The vehicle came to a rest against a stop sign at Pine and Broad streets, across from a Virginia Commonwealth University student apartment complex.
No charges have been filed in either homicide.
Richmond authorities did not comment on the festival’s cancellation.
Lt. Doug Goodman, Hanover Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said, “This is just a example of how Kings Dominion is a good corporate citizen.”
Officials from BET and the theme park said they would “continue to seek opportunities to partner on future projects.” Although declining attendance was cited as the main reason for canceling the event, the park refused to release attendance numbers.
“The relationship with our sister Viacom company Paramount’s Kings Dominion has been a mutually successful one, and we’re grateful for all of the hard work and dedication shown over the years,” BET President Debra Lee said in a statement.
During Kings Dominion’s seven-year hosting of the event, the festival raised $250,000 for black colleges and universities, plus an additional $50,000 for “Rap-It-Up,” BET’s campaign for HIV awareness in the black community.
“Because of BET’s support and promotion of this event,” Kings Dominion’s Zimmerman said, “we have been able to provide a fun-filled day of quality entertainment for a group of college students.”