How Andy Faris ran Taste of Minnesota into bankruptcy

Categories: Investigations
Andy Faris ran Taste of Minnesota into Bankruptcy.
Five more people filed claims yesterday against the company that botched the historic Taste of Minnesota festival on Harriet Island and drove it into bankruptcy.

This year's Fourth of July weekend event was a complete debacle. A combination of too-high ticket prices and bad weather led to poor attendance at the traditionally free event. The organizers gambled on bigger and better and ended up going broke.
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Andy Faris told creditors he didn't have the money to pay them

Worst of all, Andy Faris, the computer mogul who financed the event, didn't pay the approximately $1 million he owed the people he hired to put on the show. In an October letter, Faris told creditors he "had exhausted all known avenues for a sale of Taste" and still didn't have the money to pay what he owed.

Last week, 12 of the people who worked on the event filed petitions in court to force the organizers into involuntary bankruptcy. Five more people joined on Wednesday, bringing the claims against Faris and his business partners--Dan Hare and Terry Moore--to over $300,000.

"More creditors are joining," says Sam Stern, the attorney handling the creditors' claims. "They lost $1 million."

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Taste of Minnesota was a Fourth of July tradition  for 28 years, recently on Harriet Island and before that, on the Capitol lawn. Modeled after the Taste of Chicago fair, the event historically featured food as the main draw and concerts as the side dish. Ron Maddox, a colorful character who died in February, was the co-founder.

In 2009, Faris and his partners formed a company called International Event Management, LLC, and purchased Taste of Minnesota from the prior owners, Capital City Partnership. They inherited Maddox as the event organizer, since his contract ran through that summer.

But 2009 didn't go so well. The previous year's festival had been plagued with gang and criminal activity, so organizers were focused on keeping 2009 crime-free. For the first time in the festival's history, they charged admission: at 3 p.m., festival-goers had to buy a $10 ticket good for food and beverages inside the festival.

The ticket price seemed to pay off in terms of reduced crime. But overall the festival lost about $600,000.

But Faris wasn't going to let that discourage him.

This year he would go all-in.

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