City of Broken Arrow responds to complaints, allegations about cancelled BBQ event
By John Dobberstein, Editor
Organizers and patrons of the Everyone’s Favorite BBQ and Hot Sauce festival have been complaining loudly about last weekend’s cancellation.
There have been suggestions of a breach of contract and even accusations by some supporters of the event of “racism” being the reason the event was stopped just as it was starting.
The reason stated by the city this past weekend, and today, was inadequate security being present for the thousands of festival goers who were expected Saturday afternoon for the national event.
Event organizer Patrick Williams told KRMG that the problems the city was citing had been sorted out, and that BAPD had agreed in the contract to supplement officers at the organizer’s cost if not enough festival-provided security officers were present. Williams told KRMG he had 5 officers on site.
On Monday, in response to the many statements and allegations being made, the city of Broken Arrow released a timeline of its version of events leading up to the cancellation.
The city said the decision was squarely “due to the festival organizer’s failure to fulfill the obligations of his approved operational plan.
“We looked forward to what appeared to be a wonderful evening of entertainment and fellowship at (the Broken Arrow) Events Park. It’s noteworthy to mention, city staff went above and beyond to assist the organizer with his application and the required documents for this special event. Much time and effort were put into the process for it to be successful.”
The city said in a statement that, first and foremost, when reviewing the applications for special events it “prioritizes the health and safety of the patrons, as well as officers and city staff participating at the event. This is a necessity and will not be compromised.
“If the submitted operational plan for an event does not meet the city’s requirements, we will not authorize the event.”
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The city said that based on the estimated attendance figures provided by festival organizers, BAPD determined a minimum number of 6 CLEET-certified security officers was necessary to “ensure the public’s safety. This was stipulated in the organizer’s approved operational plan. Bottom line, it was the organizer’s responsibility to provide security.
“Simply put,” the city’s statement added, “the organizer was not forthcoming about his inability to comply with his approved operational plan concerning his security requirement. He had the opportunity to update city staff the day before the event and the morning of the event.
“Instead, he indicated everything was good to go with his plan. Approximately one hour before the gates were to open to festival goers, the organizer told city staff that four security officers were sick and unavailable while two others were on their way.
“At this juncture, and with little notice, BAPD was unable to secure four officers to supplement the organizer’s failure to adhere to his security requirement. Shortly after the gates were scheduled to open, the organizer stated no security was coming. It was then the decision was made to cancel the event.”
City officials also said that on Monday, staff contacted the private security company the organizer was using for the event. We learned the organizer did not have a signed agreement with the company for its services and it had not been paid. This explains why the organizer did not have security officers on site.
Here is a timeline of the process, provided by the city, as it relates to the Everybody’s Favorite Barbecue and Hot Sauce Festival.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟏 - City staff sent a letter to the festival organizer advising him the event was canceled due his failure to submit the required documents within the 90-day window of the application process for special events.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟐 – The organizer sent an email to city officials requesting an extension for the outstanding documents he had not yet submitted.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟔 – After returning from the Labor Day holiday, city staff was instructed to extend his application period with the clear understanding that the organizer recognizes what is required of him and his deadlines for the festival to take place.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟖 - City staff received the identifications of 6 CLEET-certified security personnel from the organizer. Again, 6 was the minimum number of security officers required of the organizer to provide for the festival, per the guidance of BAPD.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟗 - City staff received the organizer’s operational plans, which among other details, included his plans for security, sanitation, parking, and other requirements during the event.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟏𝟐 – City staff sent the organizer a letter indicating its Notice of Intent to authorize the event. This letter basically states he has submitted the required materials and that the city will authorize the event so long as he paid his balance in full, did not change his timeline or operational plans, and that he agreed to meet his commitments in his submitted materials.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟏5 – The city authorized the event.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟐𝟐 – City staff sent an email to the organizer which reiterated a minimum of 6 security personnel was required for the event to ensure the public’s safety. We also stated that if the minimum number of security officers was not met, Broken Arrow police would need to supplement with on-duty police officers with the organizer paying for the cost of using those officers. This was an opportunity for the organizer to alert staff that he was having problems securing CLEET-certified officers per his approved operational plan. It also would have given BAPD time to have officers ready to work the event.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟐𝟑 – City staff met with the organizer at 9:25 a.m. at the Broken Arrow Events Park to review his plans and to provide him a detailed hand-out with his operational plan and timeline. At no time during this meeting did the organizer indicate he could not meet the requirements of his approved operational plan, including security. Had the organizer been forthcoming about his inability to provide security, it is possible BAPD would have had time to have officers ready to work the event.
𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭. 𝟐𝟒 – A city staff member met with the organizer at approximately 9:15 a.m. The organizer indicated everything was good to go but he did not indicate he was having problems getting security on site. At this point, 6 hours prior to gates opening, no security or sanitation bins were on site as was required by his approved operational plan. Had the organizer admitted his inability to provide security, it is possible BAPD would have had time to have officers ready to work the event.
At 1:58 p.m., a little more than an hour before gates opened, city leadership was made aware the organizer would not have 6 security officers. According to the organizer, 4 of the security officers had contracted COVID-19 and 2 were on their way to the Events Park. As previously stated, those two did not arrive. This is the first time that city staff was made aware of the organizer’s inability to provide security as was detailed in his operational plan. Because he did not communicate with staff earlier, BAPD was unable to provide police officers to supplement his plan. Six on-duty police officers were already being used to work traffic control for the event as part of his operational plan.
At 3:02 p.m., 2 minutes after the gates were scheduled to open, the organizer stated he had no security coming. At 3:20 p.m., the decision was made to cancel the event out of concern for the public’s health and safety. There were no security officers and only 2 of the 10 members of the sanitation crew were on site. The organizer failed to comply with multiple requirements of the agreed-upon and approved operational plan he submitted to city staff for the festival.