This summer, a Toby Keith show was cancelled in Illinois last minute and the promoter was accused of running off with the money. Now, the promoter is speaking up about what happened as ticketholders still await refunds.
The Freedom and Dignity Festival was set to feature Keith along with Clay Walker at the Boomers Stadium on August 10. Imagine Events, LLC and the Turkey Trot Foundation and Cafe Liberty teamed-up to put on a show with proceeds going toward a Wheaton foundation to support veterans. However, after wiring money to Imagine Events, the foundation did not receive all of the funds back and pulled the event. Ticketholders were notified about the cancellation through social media and worried about refunds.
Two months later, Justin Orick of Imagine Events spoke out about what happened, telling Chicago WGN9 that he had pulled off big events like this before and wanted to work with the Turkey Trot Foundation because he is a veteran himself. He told WGN9 that the foundation and Imagine Events opened a joint bank account where revenue was deposited. However, only a third of the 12,500 tickets they had hoped to sell were purchased. When they turned to Groupon last-minute to try and sell cheaper tickets, they still didn’t sell.
The Turkey Trot Foundation had fronted a quarter of a million dollars for the event, and when Imagine Events didn’t repay the foundation back in time, they pulled the plug in fear of losing even more money, the company said. The festival reportedly sold $287,000 in ticket sales, and Imagine Events said it refunded 70 percent of ticket holders, leaving about $80,000 left in outstanding refunds. However, unlike previously reported, Orick said the joint bank account is empty and the company never kept any of the money.
Mike Birt of Imagine Events told WGN9 that he didn’t come forward earlier because he was scared and had received death threats after the show was cancelled. He’s hopeful that fans will get their money back, noting that they are “working on it.”
Imagine Events, LLC and the Turkey Trot Foundation are suing each other in a civil case, which was filed in DuPage County last month. The foundation’s attorney released a statement to WGN9, noting that every aspect of the event was controlled by Imagine Events and “that’s why we have asked the court to force them to account for all the money they received and to try to get ticket holders refunded and our Foundation’s loan repaid.
“We are just as disappointed as everyone else in how poorly this was handled,” the statement read. “Our goal was to help our veterans organization and have a good concert. We put our trust in a company that simply failed.”
While the legal battle continues and sides point at one another, fans are still skeptical about receiving refunds.