Festival-goer feels deflated after balloon festival

In Your Corner
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TULSA, Okla. - Sarah Bowers is feeling quite deflated.

She and her boyfriend purchased tickets for a tethered hot air balloon ride at the Tulsa Balloon Glow.

“One person went up,” she said. “They decided it wasn't safe enough and brought it down, deflated it, everyone packed up and went home.”

It left Sarah and others grounded.

They were told, "all sales are final...no refunds."

“I still haven't heard anything from Midflo,” she added. “They blocked me on all their social media.”

Promoter Richard Garvie of Midflo told a Tulsa television station they were at the mercy of the weather gods.

“Typically, we won't fly in anything more than 10mph, but if we can get a nice 5 or 6, which is forecasted for tonight, we should be good,” he said.

And they were good for some of the time.

Saturday night's "pre-sold" rides, however, were a bust, Garvie claims due to weather.

He told the In Your Corner team, “We're not going to risk the safety or the lives of any of our pilots or any of our guests.”

Sarah says she understands. Her gripe is with the way the event was organized.

She recalled “[There were] no signs, anything. Not even the vendors knew.”

Garvie says he has a clear ticket sales policy for canceled events.

“You can use your ticket next year, you can use your ticket at one of the rain out dates.”

The promoter’s taken a lot of heat online for his ticket policy and postponing rides at balloon festivals across the country including Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida.

His OKC event was canceled in 2017 after the landowner, Chisolm Creek, terminated the lease agreement, they say, due to Garvie not keeping his commitments.

He said he was made to look like a fool, by “3 or 4 guys [who] went to the landowners, basically saying that we shouldn't be allowed to do events, because they were in [a] dispute with us.”

In Tulsa, he's accused of writing hot checks and breaching contracts tied to several previous festivals.

Court records show the owner of Tulsa Raceway Park sued and won. He's still waiting to get paid.

Vendor Kansas City Aerosports also prevailed in court.

Garvie did pay up, and that case was dismissed.

He claims he didn’t know anything about the charge, which is why he was a no show in court and the “judgment was made.”

The promoter went onto say he never wrote a hot check, and instead stopped payment on the check because the vendor didn’t live up to their end of the agreement.

Despite his legal problems, the promoter keeps putting on more Balloon Glow festivals.

Back in March, Miami festival-goers complained of long lines, a lack of organization, and postponed tethered hot air balloon rides.

One customer said she waited in line for nearly 3 hours.

Garvie told NBC 6, the allegations were baseless, and "thermal activity" made it too dangerous for the hot air balloons to go up.

“And the safety of our guests is more important than trying to squeeze through some extra tickets and whatever else.”

Dozens more patrons online say it's the promoter blowing hot air.

Garvie was charged criminally in Oklahoma and Florida.

He told News 4 the arrests were absurd, and as soon as he spoke to the prosecutors, they dismissed the cases.

Court records confirm the cases were dismissed, but only after he satisfied the restitution.

We know earlier this year, his festivals in Atlanta and Las Vegas were postponed last minute due to "forecasted high winds."

Garvie points out, despite his strict no refund policy, he issued thousands of dollars in refunds anyway.

Sarah also got her refund, but only after she disputed the charge with her bank.

“I just want to get the word out,” she exclaimed. “Don't go to any of his events.”

Garvie uses the site "Eventbrite" to promote and sell his tickets.

He says he gave Eventbrite the okay to refund Sarah her cash, but it was up to them to follow through with the refund, which never happened.

At the end of the day, even though Sarah knew she was purchasing a nonrefundable ticket, she feels the event was not as advertised.


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