Controversial festival set for Breese Stevens Field after complaints elsewhere

MADISON (WKOW) – A controversial festival is set to be staged at Madison’s Breese Stevens Field later this month after other versions of the event have drawn complaints from some attendees across the country.

The Madison Taco Festival is slated to take place Sept. 18. Breese Stevens Field management says Arizona-based AZ Food Festivals contracted to stage the event with limited involvement by local staff.

“We’ve got to open the gates, serve the beer, and they use our ticket system,” says Breese Stevens Field’s Conor Caloia.

The Taco and Margarita Festival staged by the Arizona company in Fargo, North Dakota last month was panned by some attendees for having long lines, confusion at gates, too few vendors and providing less than what was advertised.

“Somebody either didn’t plan at all, or didn’t do a good job of planning, because there was no signage or anything,” festival attendee David O’Toole of Grand Forks says.  “Or we were being scammed.”

Some Fargo festival attendees filed complaints with the North Dakota Attorney General.

“I mean, one of my friends, she spent $260 on tickets,” Jackie Brown of Fargo says.

Lizzy Mosby attended the Taco and Margarita Festival in Des Moines earlier this summer. She says waits for any food lasted close to an hour.

“And then by the time we got to the front of the line, all that was left was chicken or chorizo tacos and they had no toppings to put on them,” Mosby says.

Similar complaints from festival goers in Bend, Oregon and a suburb of Pittsburgh have also been lodged.

North Dakota Attorney General Spokesperson Liz Brocker says the attorney general staff have mediated two complaints and secured full refunds.

“We are concerned,” Caloia says of the upcoming Madison event.

“We’re in the process of exploring our options…to either get out of the event or make sure it is a good event.”

A venue in Oklahoma City Wednesday canceled its previously scheduled taco festival.

A spokesperson for AZ Food Festivals has yet to respond to a request for comment from 27 News.  

Owner Adam Dobres of the event company’s parent organization has also yet to respond to a 27 News request for comment.

Mosby says there were few signs of the event company’s staff at the festival itself in Des Moines. “The only ones I saw were running around, in panic mode trying to manage problems.”

Controversial festival set for Breese Stevens Field after complaints elsewhere