Vermont music fest was an ‘extreme clusterf–k’: contractors
It was like the Fyre Festival — on ice.
A slew of contractors have come forward to tell Page Six about an “extreme cluster-f–k” of a festival that took place on a ski mountain in Vermont in April — leaving freezing staff with nowhere to sleep,
piles of garbage, and a string of furious unpaid vendors.
We’re told the organizer, Danny Bitar — who owns a boutique marketing firm in LA — showed up a week before his three-day EDM and snowboarding extravaganza, Minus Zero Festival, and began “firing people on the spot” and slashing staff facilities.
“He tried to cut all these things because he knew he didn’t have the money,” Myles Mangino, who says he was hired to run the festival on Mount Snow, told us. We’re told workers scrambled amid the chaos.
“There are 150 people working in an area where the closest store is 50 miles away, in the freezing cold all night, for 12 hours,” said Mangino. He said that he ended up paying for his staff’s food out of his own pocket.
“Some staff had 12 people in a room, they were finding friends [to stay with], staying in Airbnbs.”
But Bitar tells us, “We didn’t cut anything. Everybody had food and a place to stay and hotels, all that was taken care of. It never happened.”
“It was an extreme clusterf–k,” a behind-the-scenes source told us, explaining that workers tried to speak with Bitar about the situation. “It was in one ear out the other.”
Security and crowd management firm Green Mountain told us it’s owed $85,000. Chief operating office Allen Ostroy tells us “checks bounced,” while Rob Sinkewicz, its chief financial officer, added, “They also gave us credit card payments that they pulled back four months later.”
Meanwhile, Alex Pollak, chief executive officer of first-aid company ParaDocs, tells us his team was also given checks that bounced, but “we felt a moral obligation to service the festival-goers and didn’t want to just walk away. . . That would have created an extremely dangerous situation for the attendees. In the end we were never compensated.”
A rep for Mount Snow, Jamie Storrs, tells us the venue is owed a “chunk of money” but said the event was a hit among attendees and that crowds were “well behaved.”
And Mangino tell us, “The [organizers] left [the site] a mess and kept promising they’d hire a clean-up crew and didn’t. I hired local people to clean up the mountain while those guys took off to the airport. I spent thousands of my own money so I wouldn’t leave a beautiful Mount Snow in a total mess of garbage.”
Bitar disputes this, telling us,”There are a lot of stories going around and half of them aren’t true,” insisting, “We hired two guys to move stuff into the truck and I paid them 1,200 bucks. We have storage that I am still paying in Vermont. The resort was in charge of the garbage removal.”
When the festival announced on Facebook in December that the 2019 event had been canceled, it received a barrage of accusations about last year’s event in response.
One vendor claimed that the organizers lied about “its attendance numbers to sell vendor spots.” Another called the organizers “the most useless, unprofessional gaggle of egotistical LA idiots I ever had the obligation of working with.”
Videographer James Colleta wrote, “Many of the people I talked in the months following the event, along with myself, were never paid for the work that was done at Minus Zero. . . After several months of follow-up emails and phone calls, my management and I gave up.” He accused the organizers of hiring him “knowing that they would not be paying me.”
Mangino says that, in the end, “I was ripped off for a lot of money — and six months’ worth of work.”
We’re told that as far as the public was concerned, the festival went off without a hitch.
Bitar, who has been a part of the event taking place since 2015, told us that the problems were caused by poor tickets sales — because his headlining act was “too cool” for Vermont.
“This year we went for a cooler act [than last year], but while [electronic act] Odesza in New York or LA will sell out, it’s too cool for Vermont,” he told us, “[The show] was amazing, but not financially amazing.”
He continues, “The show came in and lost half a million. Every vendor has been paid half of his money. Most are paid in full but the small little ones. . . like DJs are owed $100, $200. . . We want to fix it immediately, but how do we fix it if you don’t have money?”
“My plan is working really hard to pay everyone that we owe, apologize about it and work on fixing this issue and starting it again with serious financials that will not lead us to another mistake,” Bitar said, “This festival needs to come back, clean up the mess with everyone; because its a really amazing festival. People have tattoos on their arm about it. . . it’s a life-changer to them.”
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