Everyone who submitted a valid ticket request will be getting a ticket.
As soon as the ticket window closed, it was clear that this was going to be a big year. More ticket requests had been created in our ticket system than ever before. There’s always some percentage of requests that get created but never get mailed in. That percentage would need to be unusually high for this not to be a record year.
The requests were opened and processed on Saturday, February 22, by a hardworking team of about 50 volunteers. And in fact the percentage of requests that got mailed in was slightly higher this year than last. There is also always some percentage of requests that are not valid—generally these are either requests accompanied by personal checks, or requests mailed outside the request window. This is a small percentage—just 2–3% most years.
Milam County approved Flipside’s permit application on Monday, February 24. While we were expecting to receive it, the fact that we did not have the permit in hand at ticket opening meant that we held what we call a “soft lottery.” In a soft lottery, we draw down just below the number where the mass-gathering act kicks in, just in case we don’t get it. Then once we get our permit, we accept the requests we drew. This is a manual process where all the requests (except lottery-exempt ones) are assigned to one of eight bins at random. Then members of AAR LLC randomly draw requests from each of those bins in turn, and read out the names on those requests. Even though we had every reason to believe we would be getting our permit, this was still a difficult process. We drew the names of friends, campmates, former board members, and hardworking community members. Four of the people who were in the room to volunteer for request-opening had their names drawn.
The number of available tickets is not straightforward. First, there’s the mass-gathering limit of 2500: without a mass-gathering permit, we can’t exceed that number. Flipside has applied for and received this permit every year since 2014, but we don’t take it for granted. Second, there’s the maximum number of people that we’ll admit to Flipside, based on the land’s carrying capacity and volunteer capacity, even with our mass-gathering permit. For 2020, we set that number at 3100. Third, there is a “lottery exempt” number. These are people we can identify in advance who will (you guessed it) be exempt from a lottery if we need one—leads, AFs, etc, and their SOs. We try to keep this number as small as possible, because every person that gets added to this group pushes us that much closer to a lottery for everyone else, and lotteries suck. This year, that number was 199. Finally, there are “set asides.” These are slots for people we cannot identify in advance, but we know we’ll need to set aside tickets for to make available closer to the event. Again, we try to keep this number small. This year it was 160.
So, without a mass-gathering permit, we need to have a lottery to get down to 2499 minus set-asides, or 2339. With a permit, we need to get down to 2940 requested tickets.
In 2020, we received requests for 2937 tickets. That gave us a margin of 3 under our cap. That’s a first.
In past years, we haven’t been so close to our limit, and have been able to honor late-postmarked requests. This year, we can’t do that.
As of this writing, your request status will not show any change. We are still dealing with a very small number of “special handling” requests. Once those have been dealt with, we’ll flip the switch in the system and you should see your status as ticketed here.