Rock Gone Wild’s official website is once again operational, asking ticket holders to enter their name and date of ticket purchase. The site does not specifically guarantee refunds.
Yesterday, Rock Gone Wild attorney Ted Sporer announced to media that the event is “officially canceled.” He also told the Globe Gazette of Mason City, Iowa that he is planning to pursue fraud charges against Diamond Jo casino in Northwood, Iowa. Promoters for Rock Gone Wild allege the casino reneged on their agreement to host the festival.
This may not be the only legal battle surrounding the festival’s cancellation. Phil McCormick is the state coordinator for ABATE of Iowa. He worked closely with Rock Gone Wild organizers for a year. Now he’s working with lawyers.
“Our attorney is still working on it. He had sent her a letter, saying we’ll take X number of dollars for a settlement or we’re gonna have to go to court. I called and emailed to ask her [Natahlie Faghihi, festival manager] if she was going to go with the settlement or what and that’s when she said she was bankrupt and she gave the whole business over to Donnie Frizzell [promoter].”
After Rock Gone Wild officially canceled the event via their attorney yesterday, officials with ABATE of Iowa released a statement that reads in part:
ABATE of Iowa would like to express our empathy for the many people who had hoped to enjoy a mega rock concert in Iowa. Our only part in the concert was a contract dated August 26th 2008 to lease out our land called Freedom Park to Jpot Entertainment for a fee. The promoters were to provide everything else including Bands, security, food, tickets, restroom facilities, vendors, insurance, etc. They breached their contract with ABATE on July 17th 2009 when instead of sending a portion of the payment originally promised and over due; they publicly announced that Rock Gone Wild had been moved to the Diamond Jo Casino. A few of the reasons we were given included worries about flooding, roads not large enough for tour buses, airport concerns, and not enough hotels in the area.
ABATE, on advice of legal council (sic), sent an offer by email on July 22nd to Nazli Faghihi* whom the contract was with. We followed that with a registered letter; allowing ten days to respond or face legal proceedings for breach of contract. That email and letter have both gone unanswered. Jpot Entertainment has yet to fulfill their original obligation with us.
“I feel sorry for the ticketholders,” McCormick continues. “The ticketholders are the victims. They are being stuck with a lot of money put out, thinking they were going to go to a good concert. We were looking forward to it too. The whole city of Algona. We have a lot of fences to mend I guess, trying to keep our name above water. We worked hard to get a good reputation in that area.”
McCormick thinks money issues may have caused the move from Freedom Park to the casino.
“...There were some bills that were not getting paid I think, and we had an inkling they were downsizing a bit. Early on, when they first organized they were talking of a 220 foot wide stage and a big production. Over the Fourth of July weekend, Donnie Frizzell and his logistics team came up to our park during our motorcycle rally and looked things over and they decided they were going to downsize and use our stage as the “A” stage. Ours is only a 40 x 50 – a permanent stage – so I figured there must be some sort of financial difficulty going on at the time.”
In the midst of the apparent cancellation, Ms. Faghihi contacted Mr. McCormick to try and move the festival back to Freedom Park.
“She called me around noon that day [August 7] and asked, ‘I know you guys are probably mad at me, but is there any chance we can come back to your park? I can’t afford to pay you the rent we had in the contract.’”
McCormick says he told her that the festival couldn’t move back without payment. Lawyers also advised McCormick against the move, citing the breach of contract and short time to secure insurance and prepare the venue.
“We told them that when we first signed the contract, ‘Don’t screw this up for us. We have a good reputation with the city and they love having us come there.'"
*Note: Ms. Faghihi presents herself as both Nathalie and Nazli. She also sometimes goes by the surname Tarabadi.