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Stillwater had a Fyre Festival balloon bust

After a year where all events were canceled, people are getting hungry for anything to do. That apparently includes standing around in an empty field complaining about being ripped off.

Over the past week, KFOR has filed three different reports about the Stillwater Balloon Fest. Scheduled to take place this past weekend, it was an event that went pop.

Here are details via KFOR:

An event called the Stillwater Balloon Festival was planned for the past weekend, but people who came expecting a lively event were greeted by a mostly empty field.

The event was put on by Redbud Entertainment, promising hot air balloons, music, and food trucks.

Some people paid up to $50 for tickets. Some also took their young kids.

“We saw nothing out there. There was no cars, there was no vendors, the field was just empty,” attendee Karyn Allacher said. “There was not a reason to really bring my daughter after we got there, and it was extremely disappointing.”

This hearkens back to the great pre-pandemic fiasco of Fyre Festival, which produced multiple documentaries and a lot of hilarious social media snark. Ja Rule and a bunch of tech bros conned a bevy of influencers into flying out to an island for a music festival that never actually happened. It nearly turned into a Lord of the Flies situation when there was little food, water, and other resources. The bands didn't show up, people were stranded, and it was a complete disaster.

Okay, Stillwater Balloon Fest may not have been that extreme. The promoter didn't seduce wealthy millennials with fancy commercials featuring pretty models lounging on a yacht. They used a traditional event poster instead:

It's never a good sign when an event poster features more fonts than there are letters to the alphabet. That being said, I am impressed by how the designer was able to fit so many random logos in such a compact area. That took some skill!

KFOR did some digging, and some of those sponsors had no clue they were even sponsoring the event:

The flyer also names Folds of Honor but they say in a statement, “Folds of Honor does not have any affiliation with the Stillwater Balloon Festival. Our name and logo were used without permission and we have not been made aware we would receive any proceeds.”

Mugsy’s Grubhouse advertised the event, but the owner says they only leased the property to the organizer. We tried reaching the organizer in a number of ways on Monday, including calling him, going to the office of another business he’s listed as owning, emailing, and Facebook messaging him, but did not hear back.

The guy behind Stillwater Balloonfest is a guy named Kevin Anderson. He doesn't have a large social media footprint, but based on appearances, he looks like an honest, trustworthy guy who can get you a good deal on a used Cutlass.

Seriously, who wouldn't want to ride in a hot air balloon with that guy? If the balloon springs a leak, you can use his shirt as a parachute!

When contacted by KFOR, Anderson issued a pointed memo reminding everyone about the festival's strict no-refund policy. He also blamed the Oklahoma weather:

Anyone else get the feeling that Anderson was banking on the weather being shitty that day? Why else would you plan a balloon festival in April in Oklahoma? The weather is manic all year around here, but April's probably the worst. It's either wet and dreary, humid and tornadic, or sunny and mild with 30MPH wind gusts.

I guess that leads to the question here –  Did Anderson intentionally throw a shitty festival to rip people off, or – like many amateur event promoters – was he just in over his head? He does have a history of throwing shitty balloon fests. From trivia nights to Oktoberfests to large national conventions, I've helped organize and promote a wide variety of events over the years, and I don't think the average person knows just how complicated and difficult they are to pull off. If Anderson throws the Stillwater Ice Sculpture Festival in August, I think we'll know the answer.


TLO's Lucas contributed to this report.

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