Promoter sues charity over canceled Toby Keith concert in Schaumburg; charity responds with details

  • The promoter of the canceled Freedom & Dignity Music Festival that was to be headlined by Toby Keith last week in Schaumburg has sued the charity the event was created to benefit.

    The promoter of the canceled Freedom & Dignity Music Festival that was to be headlined by Toby Keith last week in Schaumburg has sued the charity the event was created to benefit. AP Photo, July 2019

Updated 8/12/2019 4:19 PM

The promoter of last week's canceled Freedom & Dignity Music Festival in Schaumburg has sued the charity the concert was created to benefit, alleging breach of contract and intentional misrepresentation.

The Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot Foundation responded to the claims with a more detailed statement about the sudden demise of the planned Aug. 10 concert headlined by country music star Toby Keith.


In it, the foundation claims Imagn Events sought a last-minute payment of more than $400,000 to stage the festival, a commitment the charity said it could and would not make.

Not to be outdone, representatives of Imagn Events on Monday morning said the company now plans to amend its lawsuit to add a claim of defamation against the Turkey Trot Foundation. The suit seeks more than $100,000 in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages and court costs.

"Statements made by the Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot Foundation to the contrary, explicit or implicit, are false," a written statement by Imagn Events reads.

Imagn also indicated that the refund process is underway and ticket holders are beginning to receive their money back.

The foundation called off the concert Wednesday, citing concerns that Imagn was unable to stage the event as planned. The fest was created as a fundraiser for Cafe Liberty, the foundation's culinary training program for veterans and their families.

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Imagn Events approached the foundation with the idea, according to foundation representatives.

"Imagn Events required a loan from us for $248,750, documented by a written note that was due to be paid back by August 1, 2019," the foundation said in a written statement. "They defaulted on the note."

The foundation described the loan as an initial payment to secure performers for the festival. It also said it secured two suite sponsors for a total of $65,000, and that money went to Imagn Events to cover expenses.

"On a conference call five days before the event, Imagn told us we needed to give them another $406,250 in order to move forward with the event or the event would have to be canceled," the foundation stated. "This was not part of our original contract, nor was the foundation in a financial position to agree to their ultimatum of $406,250."

The foundation said its members then looked at the numbers provided by Imagn Events, determined the promoter was not in a position to stage the concert, and terminated their agreement on Aug. 6.


The foundation says it and the Schaumburg Boomers, which were hosting the concert at their stadium, tried to save the festival but determined it was not financially feasible.

"At present the foundation's financial outlay and potential losses are in excess of $340,000," its statement said.

Imagn's lawsuit states that an oral agreement reached in November called for the foundation to cover all costs of the event through ticket sales and its corporate account, while Imagn would serve only as promoter. The suit says that the written contract is silent on many items, including the handling of ticket sales and ultimate financial responsibility.

Imagn informed the foundation of numerous down payment deadlines to vendors and other parties throughout July, but the foundation claimed it lacked the funds, the suit states.

The lawsuit also accuses the foundation of posting personal information and the cellphone number of an Imagn owner and employee online, leading to harassment and threats.

Dan Gibbons, founder and executive director of the 35-year-old foundation, said he has not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

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