Mega Festival cut short because of rain

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 8, 2003

Rain and poor attendance caused organizers of the Tri-State Mega Festival & Fair to cut the event short and left several performers wondering when, or if, they would get paid.

Although organizers hoped and prayed that ticket sales would pick up Saturday,

by early evening a letter was given to the performers and vendors announcing that the event will close at 10 p.m. Saturday and all Sunday's events will be canceled as well.

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The laser show, rave, rock act Sixpence None The Richer and a car show were all casualties of the cancellation.

Jennifer Hanson performed Saturday because she was paid her $2,000 fee, according to organizers. The other acts such as the Don Campbell Band played for free. Jenny Paquette decided not to go on stage.

Gordon MacKay, of MacKay Marketing & Entertainment of Bridgewater, Mass., represents seven acts at the event.

Saturday evening, MacKay said none of the performers had been given the money promised to them in their contracts and are probably owed more than $60,000.

"We are not looking for any more than we are due," MacKay said. "We just want them to fulfill the contracts."

MacKay said he was punched in the face by one of his clients because the tension was just boiling over.

Michael Sandlofer of the Wyndham Ranch, said he was owed more than $7,000 and did not have enough money to get his 13 people and eight trucks out of the mud and on the road to continue their tour.

"I have never been treated like this," he said. "I do not want to have to beg for my money, I just want to get my family out of here."

Event President Rick Clark sat in an office trailer on the verge of tears as he expressed remorse about what went wrong and emphasized that they never planned to rip anyone off.

"I feel sorry for the people who are going to lose money. We are going to lose ourselves," he said. "Our intent was to help the community, but the rain really hurt us. We hope the community will forgive us. We tried."

Although they were still tallying up the gate sales, Clark said he estimated that investors, committee members and artists will be out $150,000. The Mega Festival Corporation and Clark himself will probably file bankruptcy, he said.

The performers started getting angry when it became clear that they probably were not going to get paid, he said. The stress of the event sent vice president Casey Kerns to seek medical attention at a local hospital.

Volunteer event organizer Sherri Kincaid of Ironton, said through tears Saturday that everyone was trying to pull together to still make the festival a success and pay everyone what was agreed.

The entrance fee was cut from $10 to $5. Parking was made free and vendors contributed free food coupons. Wackenhut security was cut because the group could not pay them, but by then it was too late.

Many of the vendors were still supportive of the event, though it did not work out as well as hoped.

"Everybody at this event has busted their chops to do what they can," said funnel cake vendor Chuck Graham of Grove City. "I am losing money but it is not their fault that it rained."

Some of the performers blamed the city and Mayor Bob Cleary. The mayor said it was a shame that the event turned out the way that it did but that the city is not liable in any way.

"The only thing the city did was to allow the committee to use the property," he said. "We took no responsibility. "

Even though Ironton may not be liable, one resident, who wished to remain unidentified, said "this is just another black eye for the city."