Residents frustrated as tickets for popular “Enchanted Airlie” event sell out quickly

Tickets for this year’s “Enchanted Airlie” event at Airlie Gardens sold out in less than an hour Wednesday, leaving many residents frustrated.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Tickets for this year’s “Enchanted Airlie” event at Airlie Gardens sold out in less than an hour Wednesday, leaving many residents frustrated with the buying process.

New Hanover County Parks and Gardens Director Tara Duckworth says tickets selling out so quickly for the holiday light trail is common and stands by the county’s process to sell tickets online via ETix.

“I know it is frustrating,” said Duckworth. “There’s concerts and things that my husband and I have tried to see, too, and it is frustrating, I know. And we certainly don’t want to disappoint anyone, but we have a finite number of tickets and, you know, we try and accommodate everyone that we can.”

The county makes 6,500 tickets available for purchase, with each ticket being sold for a carload of people. Tickets are allotted based on the parking spots available at Airlie Gardens.

Residents like Stephanie Chernoff are concerned that since ETix allows users to buy up to eight tickets at a time, it could allow people to buy tickets they do not intend to use.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve got some people who are saying, ‘I’m only going once, but the county will let me buy eight, so I’ll buy all eight and then I’ll sell the seven at a markup.’ And I’m not a fan of scalpers,” Chernoff said.

Duckworth says the county will reassess the process for next year.

“I think it’s something we definitely will look at next year. Each year we kind of reassess, you know, what worked, what didn’t work. Hindsight is always 2020. ETix is the platform that we use to sell our tickets, and that’s an industry standard. So, if you know you buy tickets to go to a concert, that’s generally through a platform like ETix, and eight is what they recommend,” Duckworth says.

The county says 41 people purchased three or more tickets in a single transaction, which Duckworth says is not many. Only one person bought eight tickets in one purchase.

Still, residents are frustrated that tickets sell out so quickly. Chernoff wonders why the event cannot run for more dates. Duckworth says the issue comes down to staffing.

“Our challenge is the amount of staff and volunteers it takes to pull the event off,” said Duckworth. “We try and make it look seamless and easy, but it isn’t there. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that has to occur plus, you know, we’re open during the day as well.”

Tickets were first made available to members during pre-sale, but members could only buy one or two, depending on membership level.