Jacksonville, FL - The Southeast US Boat Show and Oyster Jam Music Festival isn’t taking place this weekend, but it has been rescheduled.
The event organizer Jimmy Hill, with Current Productions, says they have booked Met Park for May 19-21. This comes after their announcement earlier this week that the event would not take place this weekend- because they had never formally booked the venue.
The City and Hill confirm there was an outstanding balance from the 2016 event that initially prevented Current from booking the venue. That debt wasn’t resolved until the end of January, but at that time, Met Park had been booked by the organizers of Welcome to Rockville, to use for moving in and setting up for their event the following weekend. The City of Jacksonville says they facilitated between The Boat Show/Welcome to Rockville to try to work out a plan that would have allowed both to occupy the space this weekend, but that ultimately didn’t lead to an agreement. Hill says the City had given him verbal and informal commitment that a deal would be reached, and he trusted that the event’s 20 year history with the City would mean that was enough.
To sort through the commitments and communications, WOKV requested all of the written communication between Current Productions and Jacksonville’s Sports and Entertainment Office over the last year in connection to the Southeast US Boat Show and Oyster Jam Music Festival. Hundreds of emails show there were warnings from the outset that there was no guarantee a compromise would be reached, but there was nonetheless substantial confusion in the final weeks about what would actually be taking place.
This all started in May, when Current Productions emailed a request for the dates. That was followed in June, with a formal application for the 2017 show. Call logs show there was a brief conversation that day, and then a June 24 email shows the City sending notice of final settlement needed for the 2016 show. On July 28, a Special Events Permit Coordinator followed up again to remind Current Productions about the payment, specifically adding that they cannot move forward with any 2017 agreement until that payment is received.
Another reminder was sent in August, at which point Current Productions responded that they were working on paying the bill, but faced some financial constraints because of a boating accident.
In August, a special events permit coordinator sent a list internally of a dozen events scheduled for Met Park in 2017- including The Boat Show/Oyster Jam April 21-23, and Welcome to Rockville April 28-30. At the time of this internal email August 29, the City had received an application from The Boat Show/Oyster Jam, but not yet from Welcome to Rockville.
About two weeks later, the Special Events Manager emailed details about 2016 events with outstanding balances. The Boat Show was listed with a $12,711.24 outstanding balance, and Welcome to Rockville had an $84,213.63 total still outstanding. The email indicated that the Special Events Office had been in touch with representatives of The Boat Show, but that follow-up had been spotty.
September 30th, a memo to Current Productions was drafted offering a four-part payment plan as final notice to settle the 2016 balance or be sent to collections. That was sent October 13th, according to the City emails, with the first deadline being the next day. The Special Events Manager noted the next day that they had not heard back from Current, and at that time, the Sports and Entertainment Officer notified Current the balance was being moved to collections.
An internal email toward the end of October shows Welcome to Rockville’s promoter, Danny Wimmer Presents, cleared their 2016 balance with the City, and by November, emails show they had submitted their application for Met Park for 2017.
A November email indicates Current Production had called the City. That was followed about a week later with a meeting in person. An email from the Tax Collector’s Office shows Current Productions then tried to start making payments, but a December internal communication among the City shows the check bounced for insufficient funds.
December 16th, the Sports and Entertainment Officer notified Current Productions that the check had bounced, and that they would now be responsible for not only the payment, but a $317.78 service charge as well. Current emailed a response that they believed the check should have had sufficient funds, and were researching what happened.
Communication started to pick up in January, when Current reached out to the City about getting the 2017 event on the City’s calendar. Welcome to Rockville had already booked the dates, so the City responded that the venue was not available, and that Current still had the outstanding balance from 2016- which meant they did not have any dates reserved for 2017. At that time, the balance was down to $6355.62, with the other portion having been paid December 22nd. The final balance was paid January 31st.
An email from January 31st from the City shows a schedule of events at Met Park, so the Boat Show/Oyster Jam organizers could consider an alternate date. That same email said the City would reach out to Danny Wimmer Presents, but that there was no promise of a work-around. Current Productions engaged Danny Wimmer Presents to explore working together on the Boat Show/Oyster Jam dates.
In early February, some representatives of the Mayor’s office and senior staff got involved because of a complaint from Current Productions that they weren’t getting calls back from various City representatives. A meeting was established with all parties to explore a potential workaround that would allow the Boat Show/Oyster Jam to take place on the desired weekend.
Following that meeting, Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer emailed the Mayor’s Office to say they had met, and that the City was offering only to assist them in exploring whether Welcome To Rockville’s organizers would agree to some kind of special arrangement. Throughout the months of correspondence, the City notes that Danny Wimmer Presents
A March 8th email from the Special Events Manager notifies the Sports and Entertainment Officer that Current Productions is telling people they will be at Met Park, and he’s unsure why. They had been looped in after Current reached out to the City’s special events management company to ask about parking during the event dates.
On March 9th, a City Councilman asks the Special Events Office whether a date had been set for the Boat Show, and the Sports and Entertainment Officer responded that they were looking at the second to last week of April, but that they were working through paperwork and logistics. By March 19th, and internal communication showed the office still didn’t know the “direction of the boat show”, and that they were getting a lot of inquiries from entities, including JSO, their event management company, and others. That still hadn’t been resolved by March 24th.
Some insurance information was sent from Current Productions to the City March 28th. That was followed March 29th with an email requesting a coordinated conversation about logistics for the event in order to ensure they would not impact Welcome to Rockville. Internal emails showed there was still no resolution, and then on April 4th, an executive with Danny Wimmer Presents requested a phone call.
The ensuing days were filled with frequent communication, but little consensus. Current Production emailed their tentative site plan, but that was followed with questions about scheduling, liability and insurance, and other areas. The City made clear they would not assume any risk or incur any cost to accommodate the plan.
On April 11th, Current Productions questioned whether the City’s “assurance of a solution” was firm, because there had not been much progress on the administrative items that would need to be done, like getting a written agreement. The same day, the Sports and Entertainment Officer again intervenes with all parties, emailing details of Current’s proposal. Danny Wimmer Presents responded that they still didn’t have enough details to commit- specifically looking for more about the load-in and load-out schedules and the time needed to clean the park between events. They further asked to be indemnified by both the City and Current from any loss that resulted from the dual occupancy and requested a damage deposit. Subsequent emails expressed concern about what this potential agreement would mean to their event timeline, the cost that would have, and whether Current planned to cover those costs.
While this communication was ongoing, questions started surfacing among those not immediately involved in the negotiations. An Intergovernmental Affairs Director reached out to the Special Events office on April 12th to confirm the Boat Show was set, saying she had been getting questions from Council members. The Sports and Entertainment Officer responded things were not confirmed, restating that Danny Wimmer Presents has the space and Current Productions had not yet met their terms for dual occupancy.
On April 14th, a Met Park Operations Supervisor reached out to Special Events saying he assumed the Boat Show would take place because the production company was having equipment delivered. The Special Events Office said that was not the case.
The City had set an April 13th deadline, and when the Sports and Entertainment Officer engaged both parties on the 14th, Danny Wimmer Presents initially said there had not been an agreement, but Current Productions followed up saying they had agreed to all conditions. Danny Wimmer Presents followed up again saying it was the first time they had been told Current agreed to the conditions- but there were questions that still hadn’t been addressed, one of which being Danny Wimmer Presents wanting Current Productions to show they could guarantee to cover certain losses that could arise from a late move-out.
By this Monday, the City told Current Productions to notify its customers that their event would be rescheduled- if they so choose. The City told them they were willing to work to immediately identify another date, if the organizers wanted to pursue that route.
Throughout the correspondence, the City makes frequent reference to wanting to accommodate all parties, because both promoters had been longstanding partners with the City. All sides were complementary and showed willingness to work to reach a solution.
Hill says the Southeast US Boat Show and Oyster Jam Music Festival has now been rescheduled for May 19-21.