BOISE – Dozens of complaints and dozens of frustrated vendors who hoped to make thousands of dollars at the 2013 Northwest RibFest. Instead, vendors claim to have lost a lot money and say they were lied to.
More and more people who bought booth space at the RibFest are stepping forward to complain about the business practices of Kasey Thompson and other organizers of the RibFest.
They claim broken promises, false charges to credit cards and just flat out confusion.
Now, some of the same vendors are wrapped up in ChiliFest, a different event from the same organizers that already appears to have some similar problems.
"The vendors are angry, period. And the vendors believe that there needs to be accountability brought to bear," said Dale Dixon, CEO of the Better Business Bureau.
Dixon says his agency has received dozens of complaints that began before the RibFest was over. Vendors like Gary Titus who lost thousands of dollars in lost product, and simply lack of sales.
"I didn't find one person, not one vendor that did any good. Not one of them that I talked to and I was there all day," said Titus.
Instead of the 100,000 people Kasey Thompson and other organizers told vendors would attend the event, most estimates were only 6,000 to 9,000 showed up.
There was also $10,000 in prize money for competing vendors.
"We confirmed with the organizers that there was no competition, there was no prize money delivered," said Dixon.
With vendors claiming to have so much promised and so much lost, they've gone to Thompson for answers.
"I have not talked to him. He doesn't answer his phone," said Titus. "I tried to find him during the event, weren't available.”
KTVB called him as well, but only got voice mail and no returned calls.
When Titus signed up for a booth at RibFest promoters packaged a deal to get a discount to the upcoming ChiliFest. Problem is, the claims made on the event website list the wrong venue, dates and entertainment.
"I can't even keep a straight face. This is, this is such a joke. It really is," said Titus.
Since we couldn't get a hold of Thompson, we resorted to calling one of the promoters and posed as a potential vendor. She told us that the event has been pushed back a month, changed locations and entertainment.
Dixon says organizers knew about the venue change around a month ago and never updated the event website.
Titus says he's not going and wants a refund.
"I'll try and get it back,” said Titus. “I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, if he'll ever answer his phone."
Several entertainers have also complained to the BBB about checks issued by Thompson not clearing the bank.
The ChiliFest promoter said the website would be updated within the next week.
Titus, who again is registered and paid $500 for a booth, found out through KTVB about the change of date and venue.
The Better Business Bureau has also contacted the Attorney General's Office to see if any of the marketing and businesses practices associated with RibFest were illegal.
When KTVB contacted the Attorney General’s Office a spokesperson would not say whether it has launched its own investigation.