Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot Foundation 
announced on Wednesday, Aug. 7 that Imagine Events (a/k/a Imagn Events), the company handling event arrangements and ticket sales for the first-ever Freedom & Dignity Festival, had filed for bankruptcy.

The Festival, which was to feature a benefit performance by Toby Keith, was scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 10 at the Schaumburg Boomers baseball fstadium.

Proceeds from the Festival were slated to benefit Café Liberty, a culinary education program for veterans and their families. Café Liberty was spearheaded by Gibbons, who also manages the Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot held annually on Thanksgiving Day.

The Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot Foundation regretfully informed ticketholders that the event had been cancelled. For ticket-related refunds, ticketholders were advised to contact Mike Birt of Imagine Events, LLC, at (630) 414-6219. All ticketing questions should be directed to Imagine Events.

According to Gibbons, Imagn Events was to provide a country music festival that would benefit Café Liberty, a charitable arm of the Foundation, at a music venue. The Foundation licensed the use of its name and agreed that Café Liberty would be a charitable beneficiary of the festival. The Schaumburg Boomers baseball organization, a supporter of veterans and their families, agreed to provide the venue for the music festival.

“Imagn Events represented to us that they had the experience to stage such an event and that it would be a turn-key operation, meaning Imagn Events was fully responsible for all facets of the event including all financial obligations,” Gibbons said. “We trusted their assurances that they could deliver a successful event.”

Imagn Events requested a loan from the DGTT for $248,750, documented by a written note that was due to be paid back by August 1, 2019. They defaulted on the note. The DGTT Foundation wired $248,750 to Madison Entertainment in Nashville on March 1, 2019 as an initial payment to secure the artists that would be performing at the music venue with Toby Keith as the headliner. Online ticket sales opened on April 19, 2019.

“Periodic conference calls assured us that everything was going according to plan,” said Gibbons. “We trusted their assurances, as this was the first event of its kind for our foundation.”

When tickets sales were questioned, Imagn Events assured everyone they were “on pace” for an event of this type.

The Foundation was able to secure sponsors for two suites, one for $50,000, another for $15,000, for which the Foundation paid the full $65,000 in advance to Imagn Events, which they requested in ore to pay for expenses.

On a conference call that took place just five days before the event, Gibbons was told to give another $406,250 or the event would be canceled.

“This was not a part of our original contract, nor was the Foundation in a financial position to agree to their ultimatum of $406,250,” Gibbons said. “When we looked at the … numbers … the Foundation determined that Imagn Events was not in a position to stage the concert.”

Contract terminated, tickets still sold

On Tuesday, Aug. 6, the Foundation terminated the agreement with Imagn Events, but unfortunately, Imagn Events continued to sell tickets, Gibbons said.

“Over a 24-hour period, the Schaumburg Boomers and the Foundation worked tirelessly together to salvage the music festival, with each entity considering taking on or continuing to take significant losses to adjust matters,” he said. “The Foundation continued to believe in the event and the venue. However, the operational hurdles remaining and the limits facing the Foundation as a result of loans made to Imagn to allow the booking of the performers, prevented the Foundation from saving the event, despite our very best efforts and cooperation from the Boomers.”

On Wednesday, Aug. 7, Imagn Events filed for bankruptcy.

“The Foundation has the best interests of veterans and their families as its central mission,” Gibbons said. “It has worked for their benefit for 35 years. In 2018, Imagn Events, itself comprised of veterans, offered to provide the festival that would benefit the Foundation, specifically Café Liberty.

“When Imagn Events failed to perform and told the Foundation that it was unable to perform, the Foundation realized not only its longstanding reputation was at issue but also that the circumstances posed risk to hard working people, law enforcement and ticketholders.

“The decision not to proceed was a difficult decision. The Foundation remained hopeful that the event would lead to a significant donation benefitting those it serves.”

For ticket-related refunds, contact Mike Birt of Imagn Events, LLC, at (630) 414-6219. As of Aug. 7, tickets had been sold via EventSprout amounting to $287,223. Other tickets were sold on Groupon, but those numbers are not yet known.

“We sincerely hope that all ticket holders are refunded but that is out of our control,” Gibbons said.

At present, all ticket revenue and funds remitted to Imagn Events have yet to be accounted for by them. At present, Gibbons said, the Foundation’s financial outlay and potential losses are in excess of $340,000.


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