The Aloft festival announced today that it will cease operation, citing a lack of attendance, and is in the process of filing for bankruptcy.
"With heavy hearts, the board of directors and event organizers announced today that Aloft is in the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy," festival organizers announced this afternoon.
The hot-air balloon and concert festival has suffered from declining attendance in recent years at Heritage Park in Simpsonville, compounded by weather issues that hampered the Memorial Day Weekend festival.
The festival owed the city of Simpsonville $22,000 in back payments from the 2013 festival and had not yet made any payments on $30,000 owed from the 2014 festival, said David Dyrhaug, Simpsonville's interim city administrator.
Venders also told GreenvilleOnline.com that the
y have not been paid from this year's festival.
In a statement, the festival said any further correspondence pertaining to Aloft should be directed to the Skinner Law Firm in Greenville.
A representative at Skinner Law Firm said the festival has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy through the firm but paperwork is still being processed.
After the festival missed its $30,000 payment last August, the city of Simpsonville worked out a payment plan to allow the festival to continue operations, Dyrhaug said.
Aloft has paid $8,000 in back payments and another $1,200 in late fees, Dyrhaug said.
Dyrhaug said the rental fees helped Simpsonville cover extra costs to clean the park and pay overtime to city workers who worked for the city in support of the festival.
Simpsonville may end up footing the bill for those costs, Dyrhaug said.
Jason Ezell, who owns the Gypsy Kitchen based in Taylors, said Aloft was the second event for his fledgling business. He paid more than $500 to Aloft for entrance, insurance and electricity to operate his catering truck.
But when he went to turn in food tickets he'd collected in the festival's cashless system, he was told to come back for a check later in the week. He still hasn't been paid, Ezell said.
"All I wanted was my ticket money back," he said.
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an entity ceases operations and a trustee is appointed to liquidate its assets to pay off debt.
Dyrhaug said the festival drew crowds of people who camped out on the sides of roads and watched the hot-air balloons that launched each morning and evening, but didn't actually pay admission to attend the festival.
"People just pulled along the roadside and pulled out the lawn chairs and watched the balloons go up," he said. "People loved that."