The promoters of the 2013 Northwest RibFest also owe money to event participants and entertainers, according to a report issued Thursday by the Snake River Division of the Better Business Bureau.
The four-day event ran June 27-30 at the Idaho Center Amphitheater.
The BBB received 10 complaints about Kasey Thompson and Randal Nelson and their promotion agencies Idaho Promotions Group and Help Idaho LLC, bureau President and CEO Dale Dixon said.
Dixon said vendors who traveled from as far as Texas and Arkansas lost thousands of dollars when the large crowds the promoters had promised never materialized. Dixon received complaints that the checks issued to two musicians for performing were returned due to insufficient funds. The promoters also owe money to vendors from last year's RibFest at Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park in Meridian, he said.
The promoters claimed that the event was endorsed by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, but Dixon said a society representative denied that the group had endorsed RibFest.
Dixon said vendor complaints to the BBB were consistent in alleging that the promoters had been misleading.
"It's deep," Dixon said. "It's wide."
Nelson returned a call to the Statesman made to Thompson seeking comment, and Nelson said he would comment after reading the report. But he did not answer calls after the Statesman emailed him a copy.
Dixon gave information about the bureau's investigation to the Idaho Attorney General's Office. Brett DeLange, chief of the office's Consumer Protection Division, said he couldn't say whether the office was investigating.
DeLange said the office has received no other complaints about RibFest, Idaho Promotions or Thompson, the lead promoter, but has received two complaints about Thompson's mixed martial arts promotion agency, Knockout Promotions LLC.
Credit cards of RibFest vendors recently were docked $250 by Knockout, Dixon said. Vendors who left RibFest early were subject to a $250 fee, though Dixon said one vendor who complained about the charge to the BBB said he didn't pack up until the event was over.
Last year's event drew between 40,000 and 50,000 to Kleiner Park. Thompson and Nelson planned to hold RibFest at the park again this year, but their application for a special-use permit was denied by the Meridian City Council 16 days before the event. Council members said Thompson and Nelson hadn't filed for all of the necessary permits or included mandatory plans for parking and public safety.
Thompson then changed the venue to the Idaho Center, and RibFest started as scheduled.
Zach Kyle: 377-6464