Michigan Fests Hit Skids

A Michigan venue operator may be in hot water with local police after pulling the plug on a pair of music festivals at the Silver Ridge festival site in Farwell.

Philip Coultrip told the Saginaw News that he canceled the Mountain Country Festival and the Mountain Rock Festival when his major investors pulled out. But even without funds for a 2008 season, the newspaper reports that Coultrip is also juggling five civil lawsuits stemming from $30,000 in unpaid bills from last year’s events.

And now, local law enforcement is waiting for the originally scheduled festival dates to pass before launching a criminal investigation, according to the paper.

The Mountain Country Festival, scheduled June 26-29, was to have featured such draws as Gretchen Wilson, Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert, according to the Grand Rapids Press. The rock festival, scheduled July 17-20, was to star Survivor, Starship, Foghat, Jackyl and the Yardbirds on its main stage.

"It was a very difficult decision to make to postpone the shows, but the reality is our investors pulled out, and we didn’t have any other funds," Coultrip told the Saginaw News. He estimated an outlay of $4 million in the festivals’ first year.

"All the prospects for the future depend on finding new funds, private or institutional," he said. "I’m feverishly trying to find investors to pick up the ball. It is very disheartening."

In a postponement announcement on the Mountain Country Festival’s MySpace page dated May 2nd, Coultrip wrote, "All of us at Silver Ridge are committed to restructuring the financial affairs of our venue just as soon as possible. We believe at this point in time it will take a minimum of 60 days, possibly more.

"We understand this is a frustrating experience for ticketholders, bands, vendors, and media alike. The management of Silver Ridge is committed on a bi-weekly basis in providing updates to the general public as to how this process is proceeding."

At least 100 ticketholders, some of whom paid up to $3,000 for packages that included passes and campsites for their families, have reportedly filed reports with the Clare County Sheriff’s Department. Officials told the News they are waiting for the concert dates to come and go before taking action.

"When the news [of the postponed concerts] first came out, the phones lit up," Sheriff Jeffery Goyt told the paper. "We don’t care if they bought one ticket or 20; we’re taking incident reports as a check-and-balance, so that we’re prepared for whatever comes next."

However, county prosecutor Norman Gage told the paper that any prosecution hinges on whether a police investigation proves an intent to defraud ticket buyers.

"To say where this is going to go calls for speculation, and that’s always a risky thing," Gage told the paper. "If detectives conduct an investigation and find reason to bring it to my attention, I will determine the proper charges. This isn’t something I’m going to decide by what I hear on the radio and in the community."