Texas Festival Boondoggle

SAN MARCOS (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — A three-day music festival billed as a fundraiser for an organization dedicated to helping came to an abrupt and early halt, leaving disappointed fans and angry vendors looking for refunds. The event, dubbed World United Music Festival had been intended to serve as the inaugural fund raiser for United States Entertainment Force, a California-based nonprofit group reportedly dedicated to helping soldiers and their families.

Organizers for the event claim that the cancellation was due to inclement weather, in particular accident that occurred on the first day due to high winds. According to the The Austin American-Statesman, Jerry Payne, the event's founder, said that he pulled the plug after a piece of the stage, dislodged by the wind, fell on some attendees, sending at least one to the hospital. However, the bands and vendors point to financial mismanagement and low attendance as the reason for the cancellation.

Robert Chapman, who runs the Dallas production company that had been hired to provide lighting, audio and staging for the event, says he pulled his gear on Saturday, leaving bands performing sans P.A. when he says Payne couldn't come up with the promised $60,000. Chapman also claims that a $10,000 check he had received prior to the event bounced.

"It's a real mess," Chapman told the The Austin American-Statesman "I've never been involved with a festival that failed this bad."

Food vendors also claim that they are out money. One vendor, Salim Daou, traveled from Virginia for the event and after paying 6,000 in expenses, including a booth fee of $1,500, he had made $300 in sales before the event was canceled. Others, such as Ray McEachern who provided 200 portable toilets for the festival, are out $13,000 The American-Statesman reported.

Some bands are out too. Many bands had agreed to pay for free, with the understanding that the money raised would be used to help American combat troops, but others, such as headliners Asleep at the Wheel and Roger Creager, had been promised a fee.

Observers have noted that the festival appeared to have little invested in local promotion and the act was further hindered by the lack of major headliners to justify the $35-a-day ticket price.

"It was not only the worst festival we ever played, but it was the worst one I've ever gone to," Mike Morgan, frontman of Flounders Without Eyes told the The Austin American-Statesman "There was some sincerity there, but it seemed like someone who knew absolutely nothing about the concert business referenced ACL Fest and thought all there was to it was getting a whole bunch of bands to play eight stages, and you'll make a fortune." Flounders Without Eyes
performed on Friday night at the festival, but reported that the place was empty.

As of the time of publication, the event's organizer Jerry Payne could not be reached for comment. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers

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