Ads for the first ever Fargo Taco and Margarita Fest promised eight food vendors, offering an "amazing variety of mouth watering tacos & related food items." There would also be six different types of margaritas available at various drink stations, promotions said, plus live bands and DJs.
What followed was a rush of comments from angry attendees, demanding a refund and criticizing the event's organizers. The festival's Facebook page is no longer active.
What went wrong?
The event itself was held May 1, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at North Dakota Horse Park in Fargo. Tickets were $10 for general admission entry, with food and drink available for purchase; or $35 for a VIP package that included two tacos, two margaritas and a T-shirt.
For many attendees, the experience was a letdown. They've taken to social media to both complain and demand a refund. Take a look at some of the comments, left on both the Facebook event page and other threads about the festival:
- "Sat in line for 30 mins to park, $37.50 just to walk through the gate, only to have ONE food truck and hundreds of pissed off people."
- "When we arrived between 2:30 and 3 food GONE. We had purchased VIP tickets for 2 and want a FULL refund."
- "I bought 6 tickets! There was no food or drinks when we showed up! I want my money back!!!"
- "A refund is definately [sic] in order...over two hours in the lines...did get our margaritas but never did get our tacos..they ran out!!! Rip off!"
So what went wrong?
The Fargo Taco and Margarita Fest was organized by an Arizona-based company called Kick'n Dirt Entertainment, whose CEO, Adam Dobres, has seen his contact information posted on thread after thread as disappointed event-goers look for answers.
"We're used to doing events and them running smoothly, and this is sad," Dobres, who was on-site for the event, told Bring Me The News. "I sincerely apologize. This is not how I wanted it to be."
Dobres and his company were responsible, in part, for marketing, some staffing during the event, and securing the food vendors. He partnered Matt Becker, founder of Fargo-based event and promotions company WickedGoodTime, for the event. Becker secured the venue and an alcohol vendor, also brought staff, and handled ticketing.
Interest ahead of time was great, Becker said, and on the day-of, the drinks station was generally able to keep up with the pace. The root of the problem, he said, was ultimately a lack of food vendors, who couldn't keep up with the demand from the large crowd, resulting in long lines and agitated attendees.
Both Becker and Dobres worked in the weeks prior to get more food trucks, calling operators in both Dakotas as well as Minnesota. But with the event day nearing, most were already booked.
"There was a time I wanted to go to my car and cry ... because I felt so bad for all of these people," Becker said.
Dobres said he takes "full accountability" for not having more vendors and apologized for it.
"We're not here to scam people," he later added
Refunds may be 2-3 weeks out
So what about the much-requested refunds?
Dobres told Bring Me The News he plans to give money back to those who want it, and who haven't not already requested a chargeback through their banking institution.
However, that's likely a few weeks away. The ticketing company is holding the money until it works through the chargebacks. There will also be some contractual details for he and Dobres to work out. The two have not spoken directly since the event, only through an agent.
"It's going to be a process," Becker said, "but I'm literally doing everything I can do get it done, because this was absolutely ridiculous, and these people absolutely deserve their money back."