The organizers of a pair of festivals planned for the summer of 2020 have filed for bankruptcy protection, leaving fan refunds hanging in the balance. Hypervibe, organizers of the planned Country USA and Rock USA festivals in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, filed for Chapter 7 protection due to their inability to hold the events amid the pandemic.
According to a lengthy statement provided by Hypervibe, the filing doesn’t mean that fans won’t be able to get their money back.
“Although it may not be apparent, getting money back into your pockets has been, and is still our number one priority,” the statement reads, in part. “We have worked with our legal counsel to choose the best method by which to refund the remaining assets/cash to ticketholders and believe that the best and most cost efficient way to do this is through a Bankruptcy proceeding.”
Ticketholders will be able to work towards that goal by participating in the bankruptcy as “deposit” or “prepaid” claimants, giving them a level of priority in receiving the money they are owed. The legal representatives of the festival operators will provide a letter and claim form to all ticket holders with instructions on how to file for their money back.
“For what it’s worth, we are proud of the over 30 years of events we have hosted here in Oshkosh and the Fox Valley, are grateful to all of the people who supported us, especially those who came to hear the music, and have few regrets – with the exception of how this ended.”
Fans began complaining about refunds being owed shortly after the festivals were cancelled due to the coronavirus. Fans swarmed the event Facebook pages asking if anyone had received any word or response to inquiries directed at the organizers, who at the time had abruptly shifted the plan to allow credits good for tickets to the planned 2021 event rather than refunds.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection disagreed with that shift, saying “If there’s a concert that you’ve prepaid a ticket for, and it’s been canceled, you are entitled a refund,” Lara Sutherlin, an administrator for the department’s trade and consumer protection division, told Fox 11 News. “You should contact the promoter within 90 days of learning the event is canceled.”
The full Hypervibe statement related to the bankruptcy is below:
Many of you have attempted to contact us regarding refunds for prepaid tickets for the 2020 concerts. We do understand your frustration in not being able to obtain the refunds for your tickets quickly.
We do want you to know that we have been trying to deal with this horrible and unforeseen disaster since it became apparent that we could not hold the events as planned. As you are aware, the Governor banned such events, and in hindsight it becomes apparent that to proceed with the events would have been irresponsible in light of the COVID pandemic.
Unfortunately, we did not and could not have foreseen this turn of events. There is no insurance for what can be described as an act of God.
We are a small, family owned, independent concert promoter. We make financial commitments years in advance to the talent and our vendors. We have ongoing leases for the premises and equipment that we use to host the concerts, in addition to a year round staff that works hard to put the events together.
While we believe we exercise prudent financial management, we don’t have deep pocket backers nor the financial resources to weather a total collapse of the season. Indeed, as it slowly became apparent that it would be impossible to host the 2020 events, we cut back on all expenses, (including employees), and attempted to negotiate with our creditors to reduce our debt.
In fact, we reached financial agreements with our largest creditors, and have whittled down the pool of claims against our scarce resources we have available.
Although it may not be apparent, getting money back into your pockets has been, and is still our number one priority. We have worked with our legal counsel to choose the best method by which to refund the remaining assets/cash to ticketholders and believe that the best and most cost efficient way to do this is through a Bankruptcy proceeding.
We have been informed the Bankruptcy Code provides a priority to “deposit” or “prepaid” claimants, aka you, the ticketholders. This process will allow the assets turned over to a bankruptcy trustee to primarily fund your priority claims, prior to any general claims being paid, and will likely result in a significant dividend to be paid to ticketholders.
The trustee will also investigate the use of our funds leading up to the filing to ensure that only legitimate claims were paid and that there was no “raid” on the checkbook by management. The Bankruptcy Code provides tools to reclaim or claw back any such transfers – but there were none. However, this will provide assurances to you that the wind down of the business, as unfortunate as it is, has been a fair and transparent process.
Obviously, we have lost our business, which we grew into what we believe was a premier experience for our concertgoers. We are heartbroken by the events which have caused this horrible situation. We also care about our loyal patrons, for without them, there wouldn’t have been so many years of these great events. We are trying to do right by our loyal supporters and get you a refund, to the extent possible, quickly and equitably.
In order to make the process easier for all of our ticketholders, we have asked our counsel to provide a letter/email and a bankruptcy claim form to all ticket claimants with instructions on how to fill the claim out and where to send it. We are hopeful that the Bankruptcy trustee, who will be appointed upon the filing, will act quickly to liquidate assets and pay claims. We have taken pains to individually list the ticketholders.
For what it is worth, we are proud of the over 30 years of events we have hosted here in Oshkosh and the Fox Valley, are grateful to all of the people who supported us, especially those who came to hear the music, and have few regrets – with the exception of how this ended.
We expect the Chapter 7 filing to occur within several weeks and the process will then move, hopefully, quickly.
Thank you all for the support and amazing memories over the last 25 years. We ask everyone to spread love and positivity in a time when this world needs it.
– The Hypervibe Team’