Customers say they paid to attend balloon festival, met with empty field instead

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YALE, Okla. (KFOR) – An event called the Stillwater Balloon Festival was planned for the past weekend, but people who came expecting a lively event were greeted by a mostly empty field.

The event was put on by Redbud Entertainment, promising hot air balloons, music, and food trucks.

Some people paid up to $50 for tickets. Some also took their young kids.

“We saw nothing out there. There was no cars, there was no vendors, the field was just empty,” attendee Karyn Allacher said. “There was not a reason to really bring my daughter after we got there, and it was extremely disappointing.”

She said the organizer said the weather caused a delay, but later on, there were still no activities.

Another attendee said when she got there, people were leaving, saying there was nothing there.

“Everyone is mainly upset,” Amy Pierce said. “To feel like you were just kind of duped out is not a good feeling.”

The flyer also names Folds of Honor but they say in a statement, “Folds of Honor does not have any affiliation with the Stillwater Balloon Festival. Our name and logo were used without permission and we have not been made aware we would receive any proceeds.”

Mugsy’s Grubhouse advertised the event, but the owner says they only leased the property to the organizer. We tried reaching the organizer in a number of ways on Monday, including calling him, going to the office of another business he’s listed as owning, emailing, and Facebook messaging him, but did not hear back. On Monday evening, he sent KFOR the following memo:

Here is an excerpt:

FOR THOSE WHO PURCHASED TICKETS TO THE 2021 REDBUD BALLOON FESTIVAL WITHOUT READING THE REFUND POLICY,
I ENCOURAGE YOU TO THOROUGLY READ THE POLICIES FOR THE TICKETS YOU ARE PURCHASING.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNAWARE OF THE DANGERS OF FLYING AND/OR RIDING IN HOT AIR BALLOONS DURING INCLEMENT
WEATHER, EVERY RESPONSIBLE PILOT HAS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE DANGERS OF FLYING THIS AIRCRAFT DURING
CONDITIONS THAT MAY GREATLY HARM OR POSSIBLY KILL THOSE EITHER FLYING, RIDING IN, OR IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO
THE BALLOON.
AS ORGANIZER, IT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO ACCEPT THE DECISIONS MADE BY HOT AIR BALLOON PILOTS CONCERNING
FLIGHTS & PASSENGER RIDES. IT IS ALSO MY RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR THOSE ATTENDING
EVENTS FOR WHICH I ORGANIZE. IT IS FURTHERMORE MY RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT PROFESSIONALLY AND MAKE ACCURATE,
APPROPRIATE DECISIONS REGARDING THE SAFETY OF ALL STAFF, VOLUNTEERS, SPONSORS, PERFORMERS AND
ATTENDEES.

Read the entire memo below:

MEMO – EVENT MANAGEMENT & RESPONSIBILITIES

Attendees tell KFOR they haven’t heard back from him either.

“It was really just a disappointment that we had paid close to $40 to get in there for close to no activities that was listed on the brochure,” Allacher said.

“I’m just worried about this person having my information and doing it again to hundreds of people,” attendee Meghan Riley said.

One person says she’s filed a report with the Payne County Sheriff’s Office.

“Our understanding of what the problem is right now is that a lot of the people are upset because of the fact there was not all the activities,” Payne County Undersheriff Marvin Noyes said. “It’s going to be a civil matter.”

According to an old article from the Stillwater News Press, the same organizer scheduled the event in 2018, but he said then it was canceled due to weather as well. 

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