Musicians, vendors still awaiting payment after rain washes out weekend festival in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – More than a handful of musicians and vendors who were hired for this past weekend’s Rhythm ‘N Balloons festival told FOX 4 the event’s promoters owe them money. The event was cancelled on Friday due to weather and cancelled on Sunday due to, “unforeseen circumstances related to weather the past few days.”

FOX 4 spent two days trying to get answers from the event promoters, Steve and Robbie Small. The voicemail box is full and calls have gone unreturned.

Monday, a spokeswoman for the event, Tracey Passantino, sent out a statement* that said the losses resulting from the weather were not insured. The statement read in part, “The company is determining what funding it can obtain to resolve claims of creditors and has contacted remaining creditors on an individual basis.”

On Sunday, Passantino said even though she was hired to handle media relations for the event she could not get answers from the promoters about the claims of vendors not being paid.

“This is a huge surprise and this is not how my business operates,” she told FOX 4’s Molly Balkenbush, over the phone. “I went into it believing they were good people and believed everything would be fine.”

Passantino went on to say, “I have been paid a portion, but I am nervous.”

Guy Raynor, with Sound Check Enterprises, said he was hired for the festival’s production work. He said Steve and Robbie Small owe him tens of thousands of dollars.

“I went to their bank, took the check and asked them if there was enough funds to turn it into a cashier’s check and they said no,” he told FOX 4 on Monday.

Raynor said his business isn’t hurting because of the money but he feels bad for the other smaller vendors who traveled in from out of town who are.

Rusty Jones, who handled production for the event last year, said the promoters still owe him more than $4,000.

“Work it out with your vendors, we are all good people,” he said. “I feel that I probably should have reached out to the other people in my industry and kind of warned them they hadn’t paid me entirely for last year’s festival.”

David Lin, who said he was hired to coordinate Sunday’s bands and for his band to perform, said the promoters also owe him money. He said he received a twenty percent down payment for his band to perform but was not paid the rest. He told FOX 4 he has also not been paid for his coordination services.

“They money that was owed to me, it’s not that big,” he said. “I know others who are in the thousands and thousands of dollars.”

Lin said he isn’t angry, but sad about the situation. He said he hopes the promoters provide an explanation and try to make things right.

“You’ve got to have a plan B in place and realize there are things like event insurance that can help you out.”

Country music artist Travis Marvin said he hasn’t been paid according to his contract either. He issued a statement about the situation that said:

“From the standpoint of artist, we can confirm that Travis has not been compensated in full, by contract, for his planned concert on Sunday evening. This is an unfortunate situation where many fans and businesses have been misled and or hurt. We wish the best for the charities and everyone involved and hope that the correct action or actions will be taken by Robbie and Steve Small to fulfill their obligations as promoters for this event.”

Several other vendors came forward to FOX 4 but were afraid to go on camera because they said they are holding out hope they will receive a check at some point. Passantino said she could not confirm how many vendors are owed money.

The event was held at a city park and issued a city permit. FOX 4 reached out to the city to find out what kind of insurance requirements the event was required to hold. City Spokesman Chris Hernandez said the city’s insurances requirements focus on accidents.

Even though The Kansas City Parks and Recreation promoted the event on its website, Hernandez said in a text message, “This is an issue that needs to be resolved between the event organizer and the vendors. It was not a city event.”

Hernandez said city contracts require events to have insurances but the components required may vary based on the event.

The Kansas City Police Department confirms its officers who worked off-duty at the event have still not been paid.

Complete statement from Tracy Passantino:

This past weekend Great Midwest Balloon Fest, Inc., d/b/a Rhythm 'n Balloons, scheduled its sixth annual balloon fest in Kansas City. This year, it added a music festival to the balloon fest, had a number of headline entertainers, and it was to be its best event ever. Unfortunately, the weekend saw Kansas City experience the 11th worst storm in Kansas City history. The result drowned out the festival Friday and Saturday and the ground was too wet Sunday to take off. 

Great Midwest Balloon Fest, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that conducts events annually. The losses resulting from the weather were not insured. The company is determining what funding it can obtain to resolve claims of creditors and has contacted remaining creditors on an individual basis.