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Blue Ridge Rock Festival promoter owes more than $300,000 in unpaid bills to Pittsylvania County

Bills are due by October 28

Blue Ridge Rock Festival kicks off with thousands of people ready to listen to live music again
Blue Ridge Rock Festival kicks off with thousands of people ready to listen to live music again

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. – Hundreds of thousands of dollars are owed to Pittsylvania County for its involvement in the Blue Ridge Rock Festival, according to county leaders.

On Tuesday, the county announced that the county has sent an invoice containing a variety of bills totaling $337,592.29 to Purpose Driven Events which is due on October 28.

[Thousands of Blue Ridge Rock Festival goers call event complete chaos]

The bills are on behalf of several organizations that provided assistance at the County’s request, such as FCS Inc., Danville Public Schools, Danville Police Department, Danville Public Works and Pittsylvania County Schools, during the event that ran from September 9 to 12.

According to the county, each organization requesting money from Purpose Driven Events is looking to make sure that all costs are covered and that taxpayers will not be required to foot the bill for any event-related expenses.

[COVID-19 or a never-issued permit? Confusion remains as to why the Blue Ridge Country Festival was actually postponed]

While county leaders said that many of the costs, such as EMS, Public Safety, the Pittsylvania County Sheriff, as well as permit fees – were planned costs, many billed costs were unplanned and occurred due to insufficient performance from Purpose Driven Events’ vendors.

Starting the second of four days of the Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Purpose Driven Events requested that Pittsylvania County take over all operations outside of the festival grounds, including transportation services, sanitation, and traffic control, according to Pittsylvania County leaders.

Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman explained in a statement why he charged Purpose Drive Events for his own time working on event-related tasks.

“Before the festival began, I spent many hours working on administrative tasks related to the festival that fall under my normal job duties, and these costs were not billed to the promoter. However, just as it would not be fair to the taxpayers for our public safety department or sheriff’s office to work this kind of event without being compensated by the promoter, it would not be appropriate for me to spend nearly 60 hours helping to manage a private event without Pittsylvania County recouping those costs. It is not typical for a county administrator to have such a hands-on role in managing so many of the logistics for a private event like this, which is why we have billed Purpose Driven Events for my time.”

Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman

The bills that remain include items such as school buses, employees to operate and maintain those buses, sanitation workers, tents, coolers, festival cleanup and a variety of other line items.

In response to this article, Purpose Driven Events CEO Jon Slye sent 10 News this statement:

Purpose Driven Events will pay all costs actually accrued by the county. We are examining the specifics of all charges, and are working to ensure that this matter is resolved to mutual satisfaction. The County is still holding six figures in liquid cash that we provided to them directly. The amount they are holding more than supersedes the amount we have been billed. Blue Ridge Rock Festival has already made an impact of over $23 million on the local municipality this year through a seven figure investment in local businesses, nearly a million dollars in hotel reservations, as well as substantial tax revenue, permitting fees, over 1,300 employees or contractors, and overall commerce generated from bringing tens of thousands to the local area.

Jon Slye, CEO Purpose Driven Events

About the Author:

Jeff Williamson arrived at WSLS 10 in March 2016.