NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) Winterfest, a holiday market that took place in Brooklyn last year and is being dubbed the Fyre Festival of pop-up events, is not only facing scrutiny from the burrow’s district attorney but an accusation that a spokeswoman for the event was actually the organizer and was just a cover to harass vendors.
Winterfest was a pop-up holiday event that took place in the parking lot of the Brooklyn Museum over Thanksgiving and had 50 vendors but it also had its own version of Fyre Festival’s cheese sandwiches and FEMA tents, with incomplete attractions – including a headless Little Drummer Boy – and paid attractions that were considered by some to be ripoffs, according to Gothamist. The event was to be an answer to the popular Union Square Holiday Market. Instead it was considered to be a scam by some and, in early December, the Brooklyn DA’s office launched an investigation of the organizers.
“This is a total scam and there are many angry New Yorkers,” Hannah Kim, who spent more than $70 to attend, told Gothamist. “The worst part [was] the chocolate dome house which consisted of Halloween candy and watered down hot chocolate, and the Christmas tree maze which was a really poorly decorated line of trees. In addition to the $75.08 [on tickets], we ended up spending $50+ dollar for food and wine.”
Mike Burnett, who paid $110 on tickets to the event and traveled from Jackson, Miss., added, “We started walking in and I just started laughing. … It is the type of thing that if it had been a little bit better, it probably would have made me angry. But because it was so bad, it was funny.”
On Dec. 7, Gothamist wrote the following, attributing it to an event spokeswoman: In response to the complaints, WinterFest spokesperson Jennifer Crosby told Gothamist earlier this week that changes would be made to the event, including making all attractions free to the public starting yesterday. She added, “Original paid tickets to the attractions included free hot chocolate for all, free photo with Santa and complementary [sic] wine glass for Adult Tickets. Fee visitors, however, were unsatisfied. Since then, refunds have been issued to all visitors who previously paid for attractions but couldn’t access them.”
Now vendors are claiming that Jennifer Crosby is actually Lena Romanova of Millennial Entertainment Group and an organizer of the event. Crosby was used to harass vendors and the press as the event collapsed, according to vendors.
“There is no Jennifer,” Jeff Golden, owner of Bear Hands & Buddies and a merchant at Winterfest, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Jennifer was Lena; it was her alter ego.”
Participants claim Crosby engaged in a campaign of intimidation, terminating agreements and threatening legal action against those who spoke poorly of the event to the press. The Eagle contacted all 50 vendors and got responses from 21, who said they had not met or spoken with Crosby on the phone, yet one shared an email from Crosby saying the agreement was terminated for “making noise and false allegations.” That vendor went to her booth to find the electricity outlets were boarded up, and shared a photo of that.
One vendor wrote to the Brooklyn Museum saying she and other vendors “fear for our personal safety and the safety of our store” and asked for “extra security these following holidays.”
Another referred to Crosby as the “infamous, mysterious finger-pointing and threat-making voice behind the cowardly operators of Millennial Entertainment Group.”
Although the Eagle says that Crosby, Romanova and co-organizer Johan Rizki failed to respond to repeated requests for comment, Crosby released the following statement in December, saying WinterFest had not been contacted by the DA about complaints.
“We regret any confusion about the event,” she said. “Out of thousands of visitors, we received around 3.5% of complaints,” she added. “For visitors who complained about the attractions we offered to re-visit the festival and have complementary drinks, wine tasting and Santa Picture on us. Many visitors have already re-visited the event and enjoyed a hot mulled wine and out wine tasting. For visitors who arrived during the soft opening when we experienced power outage, we offer full refund. We are reviewing every complaint on case by case basis as we found many illegitimate or repeated demands of refund for same tickets. There has also been many anonymous comments with fake or doctored pictures.”
Helen Peterson of the DA’s office recently confirmed to the Eagle that the complaints against the event are being reviewed.
Crosby said in December Winterfest would not returning for the 2019 holiday season.