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LouFest contractors pull out of festival citing overdue payments

Brit Daniels of Spoon played at LouFest. Sept. 9, 2017
File Photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio
Brit Daniels of Spoon performed at LouFest in 2017.

Update: Sept. 5, 3 a.m. — LouFest 2018 is canceled. Organizers officially canceled the festival early Wednesday morning in a letter citing money troubles and a rainy forecast. Listen Live Entertainment says the ticketing company Front Gate Tickets will be responsible for refunds “while we work to repay our debts.” Visit our website for more coverage as we continue to cover this breaking story.  

Original Story - A week before the annual LouFest music festival in Forest Park, some contractors who were booked to provide essential services have begun pulling out.

Some local firms scheduled to handle stage lighting, sound and additional musical instruments have informed the event’s producer, Listen Live Entertainment, that they will not participate. The firm scheduled to remove trash said it will not be available if it does not receive an overdue deposit. Some cite persistently delayed payments from the promoter.

Vendors huddled with Listen Live representatives Friday, trying to come to a solution.

As of Sunday afternoon, Listen Live has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

“We’re not doing it,” said Chip Self, owner of Logic Systems, which was hired to produce concert sound for four festival stages and lighting.

“They failed to fulfill their contract with us,” Self said, referring to payments he said were overdue from Listen Live. “We’ve stepped back from the project. We believe other vendors have stepped back from the project."

Self said he did not know if festival organizers had successfully found other firms to perform key services.

LouFest posted on Twitter at 8:38 p.m Friday that the festival will go on as planned.

"We are 100% good to go - load-in has already kicked off! We've seen what's out there and we've heard your concerns, but everything is going as planned, and we're pumped for next weekend," the tweet said.

LouFest released a performance schedule on  Saturday morning.

Scott Foner is the owner of Valley Park-based CODA Music Company, which was contracted to provide onstage instruments for musicians not traveling with their own. He said they've had "very little communication with the LouFest folks over the last few days and last few weeks in particular." 

"At this point our participation with the festival is uncertain at best, and probably pretty unlikely," Foner said. He added, however, that if the festival "somehow comes up with the ability to pay down our previous balance as well as come up with full payment for this year, my guys can rally.” 

The parking lot is the planned location for the Enterprise Stage and multiple concession stands. As of Aug. 31, the lot was empty.
Credit Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio
The parking lot is the planned location for the Enterprise Stage and multiple concession stands. As of Friday, the lot was empty.

Another local company, Green2Go, provided electricity to the 2016 festival but has declined to work the event again. Owner Chuck Justice said he did not receive payment from Listen Live until March or April of 2017, causing him to take out a loan to pay his employees.

“It can’t happen with vendors not getting paid,” Justice said. “These are family-run businesses. They’re not big companies that are bankrolling this, these are mom-and-pops that are holding the note for events as big as LouFest, and it hurts whenever you don’t get paid.”

As of late Friday afternoon, no staging or other festival structures were in place at the concert site. However, a worker at the site who identified himself as a Listen Live employee said stage construction will begin next week.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @JeremyDGoodwin

Chad Davis contributed to this report.

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.