Country music festival vendors say they haven't been paid


EUGENE, Ore. — Some vendors from the Willamette County Music Festival and Country Crossings Music Festival are claiming they haven’t been paid after this year’s festivals.

Noah Thornton, who manages Smoke N Sams Barbecue, based in Las Vegas, was a food vendor at both festivals. He says Willamette Country Music Concerts LLC owes him around $60,000 for the work he did.

Over 20,000 people attended this year’s festival outside of Brownsville, and many of them paid for food and other items using wristbands that are linked directly to credit cards.

Thornton said the money is collected by the festival and it’s supposed to be distributed to vendors within 30 days. The festival was held on Aug. 16-19 and Thornton said he still hasn’t been paid over seven weeks later.

“We reached out and told them this is bringing heartache not just to the business but our personal lives,” Thornton said. “We’ve lost events, employees, some of our possessions. We’re not able to pay all of our bills because of this. It’s put a huge damper on our company and our livelihood.”

KEZI 9 News heard from other businesses who have similar stories, including some right here in Eugene. Officials with Bates Catering and Hole in the Wall Barbecue said they are owed thousands of dollars and received checks that they said bounced.

A WCMC spokesperson confirmed the company is in the process of “assessing” the festivals and no decisions about 2019 have been made at this time.

Meanwhile, KEZI 9 News has learned that Anne Hankins who was president of WCMC and ran the event through September pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2001. According to court documents, Hankins borrowed $350,000 from U.S. Bank by submitting a false loan application.

A federal judge sentenced her to 30 days in jail and ordered her to pay the money back. That case was in and out of federal court up until 2017.

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