An intriguing new barbecue and craft beer festival is being advertised in Los Angeles, called the Fusion BBQ Beer Fest. The upcoming event claims on its website and social media to be happening on July 18 at Dodger Stadium, and is focused on offering tastes of meat from across a variety of international barbecue styles, in addition to live music and more. The only problem: the event isn’t actually happening at Dodger Stadium on July 18 — the organization has never heard of the event, and has not permitted one on that day — it seems like nobody actually knows who is throwing the event, and, despite already offering tickets online, there doesn’t seem to be a single confirmed vendor.
So what is actually happening here?
This much is clear: On January 2, 2020, a (now defunct) Eventbrite link created by one Recharge Entertainment portrayed Fusion BBQ Beer Fest as an upcoming food and craft beer tasting event at Dodger Stadium on July 18, 2020. The link did not list any participating vendors, but did broadly announce an intention to offer a plate of barbecue and unlimited beer samples for anyone with a general admission ticket, priced at just under $75 for the six-hour event. A VIP ticket allowed customers an early hour of admission and unlimited samples of barbecue from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., priced at more than $135, including beer.
Eater has confirmed that the Fusion BBQ Beer Fest is not slated to actually take place at Dodger Stadium on July 18, because the Dodgers have a home game that day. Reached for comment, a representative for the Dodgers said that the team has never heard of the Fusion BBQ Beer Fest, and that the event is definitely not taking place on their property on that date. The Dodgers 2020 schedule was announced in August of last year, effectively blocking off July 18 as a possible date for an outside event months before the Fusion BBQ Beer Fest Eventbrite link was even created. It is unclear how many tickets may have already been sold through the Eventbrite link.
After days of attempting to contact anyone through the Fusion website, various associated websites, and Instagram, Eater reached someone named Steve Spel who claimed to be behind the event. Spel claimed to have experience in the events business, saying that he had worked to help farmers markets sell prepared foods to customers. The phone number lists to a company called Eventrockit LLC and one Steve Ang Lee. Eventrockit did briefly operate as a vendor marketplace in Pasadena and Downtown, but appears to have stopped in 2018.
After being asked about the issues with the date and location of the event, Spel told Eater that there was a “scheduling error” between him and the Dodger organization, and that the event was being moved. He declined to say where the event would be formally taking place, and if the date would change.
Eater also reached out to Eventbrite to confirm the validity of the event. On February 19, a representative from Eventbrite told Eater via email that Spel confirmed that “they will not be selling tickets to this event until they have confirmed a location.” Eater then confirmed that on the same day, February 19, someone took the Eventbrite page down, but that’s far from the end of the story.
Eventbrite leaves refunds up to the discretion of the event-holder, saying on its website: “Our goal is that organizers and attendees resolve any refund requests on their own,” adding that “not all organizers set a refund policy.” Regardless, Eventbrite says that their fee for each ticket transaction — ranging between $5.84 and $14.97 depending on the ticket package — is nonrefundable. Eater reached out to Eventbrite for clarification on the refund policy, particularly if an event does not take place as scheduled, but the company has not responded to multiple requests for further comment.
Meanwhile, Fusion BBQ Beer Fest’s website and Instagram continue to advertise the event, with the website still showing the July 18 date and the address as Dodger Stadium. What’s more, the website includes a separate, still active, ticket purchasing page through ticketing software company Ticket Spice. Unlike Eventbrite, which acts as a broker between event organizer and ticket purchaser, Ticket Spice seems to act as a sales platform that links ticket sellers and buyers directly, meaning there may be no third-party refund recourse for anyone who purchases a Fusion BBQ Beer Fest ticket from the event website.
There’s more. On Instagram, a social media coordinator who says via DM only that her first name is Christina has been reposting barbecue photos from prominent restaurants in Los Angeles like Slab and Moo’s Craft BBQ, though Eater confirmed neither is planning to attend the event. Ownership for Moo’s commented on a photo of their meat tray found on the Fusion feed, saying that they were worried that some people viewing the post could be misled about their perceived participation. The Fusion BBQ Beer Fest is even running an Eater LA barbecue photo on its feed as well, without attribution or context.
When asked about the lack of vendor information and the continued use of photos on Instagram from barbecue restaurants that are not affiliated with the event, Spel said that he “does not run” the Instagram page directly, and that a vendor lineup would be announced in the coming weeks. He declined to offer any vendor names when asked.
The email associated with the Instagram account @fusionbbqbeerfest points to a website for Upbeat Nation, which purports to be a music events company where “proceeds go toward the education of children in need.” It’s unclear what specific charities, if any, Upbeat Nation has donated to, and what the connection is between Upbeat Nation and Recharge Entertainment, the company that listed the initial Eventbrite link.
The event site does not confirm any vendors, though it does indicate in the FAQ section that “a portion of proceeds” will be donated not to a children’s organization, but to the Alzheimer’s Foundation. The Alzheimer’s Foundation has not responded to requests for comment.
It’s unclear if Fusion BBQ Beer Fest will happen at all, and some local barbecue vendors have begun to privately wonder if the event will be yet another Fyre Fest of Barbecue, in reference to a Fever-branded barbecue event in Chinatown last year that was so mismanaged it reportedly got shut down by the police.
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