Many involved in Fire in the Valley barbecue competition still waiting for compensation

Many involved in Fire in the Valley barbecue competition still waiting for compensation

June 18th, 2016 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

David Stone shows a dessert entry to judges for presentation judging June 4 at the Fire in the Valley Red Bank BBQ festival, which was moved to Camp Jordan Park in East Ridge, Tenn., because of space concerns.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Many involved in the inaugural Fire in the Valley barbecue competition the weekend of June 3-4 say they're being raked over the coals.

Competitors, sponsors and performers are still waiting for compensation from the event held the beginning of June, and some say they're starting to feel like the contest, intended to raise money to support schools in Red Bank, was a fraud.

"Basically I've been swindled," said Mike Andrews, a local musician and member of The Power Players.

He said the band still hasn't received the agreed-upon compensation for performing at the event, and he said every time he asks about it he gets excuses.

Callie LeCompte, the event's organizer, was in a car accident the day of the competition and her husband, Ed LeCompte, said she sustained head injuries and was taken to the hospital. A crash report filed by the East Ridge Police Department states Callie LeCompte rear-ended another car on June 4, and the incident resulted in no injuries.

Mountain Cove Bluegrass will be among the bands featured at this weekend's Fire in the Valley Red Bank BBQ. Members are, from left, Will Markham (bass), Cody Harvey (banjo), Eli Beard (guitar), Tyler Martelli (mandolin and harmonica) and Chris Brown (fiddle).

Mountain Cove Bluegrass will be among the bands...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Via a text message from his wife's phone, Ed LeCompte on Friday deferred all questions about participants' compensation to the event's co-organizer Eric McRoy.

According to McRoy, a lot of factors made the event "not as successful as possible."

He cited having to move the location of the competition from Red Bank to Camp Jordan due to how much the Red Bank Police Department would charge to run security. He said the rain and low turnout also hurt the event, and not as much money came in as expected.

McRoy said event insurance should guarantee that everyone gets paid, eventually.

"We are doing our due diligence to make sure the situation is being handled properly," he said.

McRoy said he hasn't returned phone calls from upset participants because of how many he's received, but that an email was sent to those involved explaining that the insurance company would be handling the situation.

Andrews said Friday he had not received an email or communication from the organizers about the insurance company covering the costs.

Neither had Patrick Banks, who said he is owed $4,500 for winning several events in the barbecue competition.

"If there is an issue, just tell us," Banks said. "Don't leave us in the dark."

He said the whole situation has been handled poorly, and he has not received any communication about when or how he'll receive his winnings.

About 30 teams competed in the barbecue competition, and Banks said participants each paid an entrance fee of a couple hundred dollars.

Christine Yuan, owner of Hamilton County Tire, said she paid $305 to be an event sponsor and have a vendor booth, but she didn't receive any of the things Callie LeCompte and McRoy promised her when she agreed to participate.

"I feel like the whole thing was a hoax," she said.

Yuan said she was told she'd receive specific advertising and a booth near the front of the event. But instead she and other Red Bank vendors were placed at the back of the park where there was no traffic, she said.

They also didn't receive the free alcohol promised.

"That is why I signed up," Yuan said. "I remember that very well."

Yuan said she's frustrated at how the situation was handled and wants her money back.

Asked if the event would be held again next year, McRoy said that's unlikely.

"The issues are more than I care to deal with," he said.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at 423-757-6592 or Follow on Twitter @kendi_and.