WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Wilmington’s 75th Azalea Festival has come and gone after a weekend full of events including several concerts at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park, a street fair, and parade. It’s the first time since 2020 the festival was held in its entirety. Each year the festival claims to bring $50 million worth of revenue to the Port City.
But one local business owner says the festival ended up costing them thousands in food costs after not being allowed into the event.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, Harley Bruce, owner of Poor Piggy’s Food Truck, said the City of Wilmington and Live Nation turned them away after booking them to serve at the concert series over the weekend.
“To everyone who has asked where we are…sorry…we were booked for the Azalea Festival Concerts all week…..when we showed up yesterday to set up we were informed that Live Nation and City of Wilmington screwed up and overbooked and turned us away…with a few other trucks as well……then got cancelled for whole weekend only to be told.. oh well go do something else….way to go Live Nation and City Of Wilmington…you cost us about $5000 in food cost.…..not to mention lost employees wages.….think again next time you go on the news and boast how much you help local economy… I will never support them again,” according to the post.
The original post had more than 200 shares before it was deleted and hundreds of comments, with many criticizing Live Nation as well as the City of Wilmington.
However, as with most things, there are multiple sides to this story and the City of Wilmington, as well as Bruce, have clarified what happened.
So what actually happened?
The City of Wilmington released a statement on the claims confirming it is not responsible for booking food trucks or scheduling them. However, City spokeswoman Jennifer Dandron said the City has confirmed that Poor Piggy’s was scheduled to serve on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Bruce said he was told on Wednesday not to show up, but that he would be worked into the schedule on Thursday.
This was a verbal agreement made over the phone Bruce said, and not in the written contract and when he arrived Thursday, he was told the venue would not be able to accommodate him.
In response to losing out on two nights of serving food, he cancelled the remaining two nights since he was unsure he would even be let into the concerts those nights either.
The City also said Bruce tried to then set up outside of the event on a public street, which is not allowed. Dandron said the City is supportive of the local food trucks, but can’t allow trucks to set up wherever they want, without prior approval.
“The City of Wilmington supports our thriving food industry and even adjusted the ordinances pertaining to Mobile Food Units in the new LDC to be more accommodating to small businesses owners. However, we have ordinances in place for the safety and well-being of our city,” she said.
Bruce said he did not actually try to ‘set up’ outside of the venue; instead, said he sat in his truck for about an hour outside of the venue ‘stewing’ about being turned away. The entire ordeal gained a lot of momentum on social media and criticism leading Bruce to create a new post on Monday explaining the decision to remove the post from its page, and explain where he wants to go from here.
“Happy Monday everyone! It is a new week and it is Easter week so I don’t want to stew on the mess from this weekend. I am actually going to delete the posts because I honestly don’t want to see it every time I get on my page and be reminded and I only want folks to see the good stuff when checking us out,” according to the page.
Copyright 2022 WECT. All rights reserved.