With its two sister music festivals in southern Oregon and Idaho canceled for 2019, the fate of the Willamette Country Music Festival in Brownsville will be discussed Wednesday by the Linn County Board of Commissioners, who will begin a revocation process for the event’s mass gathering permit.
Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist said the permit could be revoked in a single session, but the board will likely set parameters to be met by the festival owners within a set time period. Nyquist said he is especially concerned about vendors not being paid for their services.
Both the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and the Lebanon Fire District were paid for services provided at the Brownsville festival — about $77,000 and $45,000, respectively — but those payments were late and officials had to make several contacts with the festival's parent company.
The Medford Mail Tribune reported Tuesday that the Country Crossings Music Festival near Central Point has been canceled by IMG, which owns Willamette Country Music Concerts.
According to the newspaper, a company spokesperson said patrons who purchased tickets in advance for the 2019 event will have their purchases refunded.
The festival was planned for July 25-28 at the Expo in Central Point. It had operated in Central Point in 2017 and 2018, and had moved there after a three-year run near Cape Blanco on the Oregon coast.
Former festival director Anne Hankins is no longer with the company. Bi-Mart, which was the main sponsor for years, decided to end its relationship with the festival. Numerous contractors and vendors at all three events have reported not being paid.
According to the Mail-Tribune, Country Crossings drew more than 10,000 fans per year.
Vendors at the Mountain Home Country Music Festival in Idaho also faced similar nonpayment issues.
Erica Wagner of the Idaho Soccer Club in Boise told the Democrat-Herald recently that 59 volunteers who were trained to serve alcohol provided 1,000 hours operating beer gardens and have not been paid.
“Last year, we were paid, but we didn’t get paid until October,” Wagner said. “We staffed all beer garden shifts this year."
Problems with the music festivals began coming to light shortly after the Brownsville festival ended this summer and Linn County Sheriff Jim Yon told the Board of Commissioners he would not sign a temporary liquor license for the 2019 festival.
Yon said his staff had to work extra hours and he had to bring in more deputies due the number of incidents at the event.
Yon’s office has received numerous calls from vendors from all three events reporting they have not been paid, including a woman in Idaho who says she loaned the event $200,000.
Linn County commissioners also were concerned when no one representing the Brownsville festival showed up for an annual review of the event.
The commissioners also believe festival organizers misled the county by substituting an altered traffic plan for the 2018 event in place of a previously established plan approved by the Linn County Road Department.