Following complaints in Durham, Bayou festival in Concord canceled

Apr. 26, 2013 @ 03:49 PM

Following complaints from the Bayou Festival Tour in Durham last weekend, another stop on the tour that was planned to be held in Concord Saturday has been canceled.
The festival was held for the first time in Durham at CCB Plaza downtown on April 20. The organizers sold tickets that were advertised online as good for unlimited samples of beer and food such as shrimp or crawfish, or food or beer alone.
Marc Meyer, environmental health division general inspections supervisor for the Durham County Department of Public Health, said the county health department could not place requirements on the delivery of the festival’s food services because a nonprofit group connected with the festival applied for an exemption. Meyer said nonprofits are exempt from state food inspection requirements under state law.
However, Meyer said he and the environmental health director did respond to an on-call phone report received the afternoon of the festival. He said the food handling was poor at the event and the food was cold upon serving.
The organizers had not prepared well enough for the crowds that attended the event, he also said.
“We spent over an hour on-location Saturday afternoon observing the food handling operations,” he said. “We had a lengthy conversation with the event organizer about the food safety standards that are expected from food service establishments in North Carolina.”
Amy Blalock, a spokeswoman for the city, said the Bayou festival was a private event, and not co-sponsored or sanctioned by a city department. She said it did go through the Durham Police Department’s special event permitting process.
“According to the (Police Department), this was their first event in Durham,” Blalock said. “Based on the complaints we are aware of at this time, the city will closely review their request if they choose to do this again in Durham.”
Cary resident Lason Perkins said he had arrived with his wife at 5:45 p.m. for the second session, but didn’t buy anything because the festival staff was no longer selling food tickets. He said there were long lines for food and drinks.
“From what I can gather, a lot of people did that as well,” he said.
Perkins said he did not see any crawfish being served, and he said he couldn’t find any crawfish shells showing there were any consumed by festival attendees.
Saturday evening he said he saw negative reviews online for the event when he checked the event page on the social networking website Facebook. He said he looked again on Monday and saw that negative comments were removed.
“As we started to dig deeper, we (found) out about the previous festivals with the same issues, and complaints; it really bothered me,” he said in an email. “This is not first-timer mistakes, this is pattern.”
Greg Clemmer, superintendent of park operations for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, said Friday that after the Bayou festival was held in a public park in Charlotte last year, department officials received complaints. He said department officials have asked that the organizer have a better business plan.
“We didn’t feel that he ran a good enough event that we wanted to be associated with it,” Clemmer said. “It was just not very organized, and some things promised were not delivered. So (we’re) just not saying he can’t ever come back, just (that) he has to have a better business plan.”
And a festival stop in Concord that was slated to be held Saturday at the Pat Rogers Speedway Harley-Davidson was canceled. Natasha Johnson, marketing director for the speedway, said she received complaints about the festival after it was held in Durham.
Johnson said the operator was planning to lease the property. The event was not the speedway’s, she said.
“I obviously don’t want anything negative to affect us; it looks like our event, and it’s not,” she said. “I just contacted the event coordinator to ask a little about the things I was hearing, and it was actually their decision to go ahead and cancel the event.”
Blalock directed questions about the event, insurance and complaints to the applicant for the permit, Shelton Roseboro.
Meyer said the Durham County health department’s environmental health division said public complaints, questions or concerns can be emailed to healthinspector@dconc.gov.