Norris Wiggins, promoter of Deerfield Beach's Mango Festival, has a day of meetings planned with what he called the festival's "financial backers" to see about paying the many debts accumulated by this weekend's disastrous event.
"It was a challenge," says Wiggins of the Mango Festival, which failed to deliver musical acts on Saturday and was canceled on Sunday. "Unfortunately, people who shouldn't suffer from it did suffer."
Among those left holding the bag: Ticket holders, some of whom paid $75 for a VIP wristband; vendors who paid more than $1,000 to set up a booth; performers who never had the chance to sing to their fans; and the City of Deerfield Beach.
After the jump, Wiggins describes what went wrong and offers details for ticket purchasers seeking refunds.
The company providing the sound equipment for the Mango Festival's musical acts was to be paid half before the festival and half when the festival was completed. But the problems started, says Wiggins, when the first check bounced.
Wiggins claims that the Mango Festival later made that initial payment good. However, the episode made the sound company anxious. It demanded to receive the full balance of what was owed. Mango organizers refused. "So he decided to unplug and leave," says Wiggins.
On Saturday, while the audience grew restless, the Mango scrambled to find a new sound company. But just as the acts were coming to the stage, the sound system failed. "They unplugged it," says Wiggins. Who unplugged it? "I don't know who did that," he says.
Performers greeted fans and signed autographs, but they couldn't sing. Organizers hoped the performances would happen Sunday, as did the performers, some of whom changed plane tickets and reorganized their tour schedules.
"But on Sunday, Mother Nature hit," says Wiggins. The new sound company had neglected to cover its equipment, much of which was ruined. "We had a sound check, but we couldn't do it."
With that, the event was canceled.
I asked Wiggins whether the event's collapse was related to reports of hostility between him and the Mango Festival committee. "I'm not at liberty to speak about that because we have several meetings today."
Wiggins said that ticket holders who made their purchases online can get refunds by calling Ticketweb at 1-866-468-7630. Those who purchased tickets at local outlets can take their ticket stubs back to those outlets, provide their information, "and then they'll be set up for a refund." The Mango Festival website
has more details.
What about the vendors?
"At this time, we're meeting with investors about that, and a resolution is being put together," says Wiggins. "The vendors came out; they did a terrific job. The cancelation on Sunday was not their fault, and they should not have to pay for that."
Performers were paid half their total fee before the festival, says Wiggins, but he stopped short of guaranteeing they would be paid the balance: "We've spoken to the performers, and we're working things out with them as well."
Wiggins declined to say how much the festival owes to the City of Deerfield Beach, but he will be meeting with city officials today.
He also declined to give assurances about the festival's tradition of awarding college scholarships.
This was Wiggins' first experience working with the 25-year-old Mango Festival. I asked whether he would do it again. "I think the Mango Festival is a household name," he says. "It's been built up into such greatness that it should continue. I wouldn't hesitate to become involved again. It has done great things for the community."
He'll have a hard time making that case to the Deerfield Beach Commission.
Over the weekend, angry ticket purchasers flocked to this Juice post
to vent about the Mango Festival.