Organizers of the Jacksonville hosted Southeast U.S. Boat Show & Oyster Jam Music Festival were hoping for a miracle Monday afternoon after an announcement that the festival wouldn't be going forward as advertised.
Online ads and direct mailers invited the public to an April 21 - 23 weekend event, but show producer Jimmy Hill said he learned Monday morning the city wouldn't be allowing them to use the video.
The organizers of the event tried to book the April dates for the boat show and festival back in June 2016, but city spokesperson Marsha Oliver says the group had an outstanding balance owed to the city they hadn't paid. Because of the outstanding debt, the city refused to give the organization the dates at Metropolitan Park.
The festival sees thousands in attendees and many participate as vendors, selling food, showing boats and all sorts of other services for the several day festival. Oliver confirmed the show paid the balance in January through a bill collector.
The only problem is Welcome to Rockville already booked the requested dates in November.
The concert, sponsored by Monster Energy, will take place from April 29-30. The boat show applied for those dates last year but was denied. In November, the city gave those dates to Welcome to Rockville instead of the festival.
In an email, Oliver says the boat show organizers knew in November of last year that Rockville was taking their dates - the city and Rockville even tried to work with the boat show organizers to work out better dates - to no avail, she says.
To Oliver and other city representatives, the boat show never had approval from the city and thus this is not a cancelation of the event.
Jimmy Hill, the organizer of the boat show and oyster festival, held a press conference on Monday decrying the loss of the festival.
"We were moving forward - the situation is not that difficult - we are still sitting here, rejected from doing a $100 million-plus economic impact event on Jacksonville because of the move in days for a rock concert," Hill said.
Hill says he's got multiple texts and emails from city representatives telling him the event going to happen, but with moving parts.
Oliver says otherwise.
"If there is an outstanding balance that is due, we are prohibited from reserving those dates," said Oliver. "We took the extra effort, we did the due diligence in bringing [the two shows hosts] together to see how can we collectively coordinate a collaboration that will allow us all to enjoy the benefit of both."
Oliver said Rockville reserved Metropolitan park a week early to begin loading and set up for the April 29 event.
"The economic impact is massive," Hill said. "The damage to the community [if this festival doesn't happen] is not minor."
Hill told First Coast News Monday evening they are talking to the city about alternative dates 2017. He recommended ticket holders contact organizer Current Productions if they have questions.
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