North Georgia Peach Festival leaves vendors, residents and county officials disappointed
Catoosa County hosted an inaugural North Georgia Peach Festival, but many visitors, vendors, and county officials were left disappointed.
The event was held at the Northwest Georgia Amphitheater in Ringgold. According to documents pulled from the event website, over 8,000 people were “interested or going” to the event. The document states, “the last time we had this much interest online was with our first annual BaCON Festival, over 20,000 people showed up in one day.”
“We wanted to have an event here for the community and it was very unfortunate that it didn't work out,” Amy Johnson, Catoosa County Parks and Recreation Specialist, said.
Johnson says plans to host the event were set in January, but the county has not been paid for the venue space. Jenna Curtis with “Black Bear and Co." was in charge of the festival and rented the amphitheater for Saturday through Sunday. At least 60 vendors were on board, but had to pay to participate. Non-food vendors were charged $150 and food vendors were charged $250.
“Craft vendors and food vendors were going to be here and several other entities,” Johnson said. “It looked like everything would be fine.”
But Johnson says it wasn't.
“There were really concerns prior to that because of the vendors calling us and patrons calling us wanting to get information a week or two before,” Johnson said. “When I drove in there were hand written signs down the street. There was very little patronage which was very unfortunate but I just don't think there was enough advertisement.”
Johnson says it was supposed to be free, but festival goers were charged $10 at the gate and through several online event sites. A scholarship pageant was also planned, but no one of age signed up. Lisa Padgett, a local real estate agent, donated $1,000 towards it as a sponsor. She’s hoping to get a refund, but according to the vendor contract, “there is a no refund policy.”
“The right thing to do for myself and all of the vendors would be for our money to be refunded as well as the concert goers who were expecting to see a well-known musical group on Saturday night,” Padgett said.
According to Johnson, Curtis did not provide a sound system so The Clevery's were not able to perform. Johnson says the county uses a PA system. She says the organizer initially said it would not be needed until the day before the event. However, Johnson says the system is not able to accommodate a live band.
One of the band members posted a video on Facebook saying, “The folks from the Peach Festival canceled the show. They assured me that they would refund each and every one of you your money and I’m going to hold them to that.”
We asked Johnson if the refunds would be given to those who bought tickets to the festival and concert, but she says that will be up to the organizer. Johnson says her office is willing to help people do so. However, Johnson says she has not been able to contact the organizer since the festival.
Padgett says she received an email from Curtis saying a refund credit for future events will be given to those vendors who participated throughout the entire festival.
Channel 3 reached out to Curtis for comment on Monday, but have not heard back.