In a surprising show of open animosity, members of the board that run the Del Mar Fairgrounds launched attacks against Kaaboo at its monthly board meeting on February 13th.
2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar
The fourth annual Kaaboo music fest returns to the fairgrounds September 14–16.
The nine members of the board (officially known as the 22nd District Agricultural Association board of directors) lashed out against executives who had flown in for the meeting from the main office, Kabooworks, LLC, near Denver. Complaints against Kaaboo included long lines to get served, “a riot,” inability to deal with noise issues, poor parking control, and poor transportation for guests arriving and leaving.
While boardmember Russ Penniman said he had “never seen an event run so poorly on our property” about an early Kaaboo, boardmember Lee Haydu said she doesn’t believe what the Kaaboo staff says. “You can address it any way you want. Whether I believe it or not is another story.”
On February 14th, Kaaboo’s L.A.-based spokesman Josh Goodman said, “We were completely taken aback. We were hit with complaints we had never heard before. They said, ‘I don’t know that we trust you…that you lie.’ I don’t know what rises to the level of defamation but we are exploring all options.”
Does that mean Kaaboo might sue the venue they have used annually since 2014?
“I repeat, we are exploring all options.”
Kaaboo had two issues before the board at the meeting. One was its request to use a different beverage provider than the one that handles all events at the fairgrounds; that issue, addressed in a public forum, is still unresolved.
The other issue, handled in closed session, was who should book the new 1869-capacity state-of-the-art venue on the fairgrounds that will be ready next year. The Fairgrounds is spending $13 million to remodel its “Race Place” betting venue. The board assembled a committee to determine which outside entity should book the room. It decided the Belly Up was the best choice. But the board balked when Kaaboo protested.
After a closed session, meeting board chairman Stephen Shewmaker made the surprise announcement that “We are going to take it in-house.” After the meeting, Del Mar Fairgrounds CEO Tim Fennell said the Fairgrounds’ current talent buyer, Kathy Mordante, would be responsible for booking a hoped-for 60 concerts a year at the as-yet-unnamed venue.
Mordante currently books the fair’s nine stages, including the grandstand headliners. She is the one who agreed to pay country artists Sugarland $375,000 to appear at the Del Fair’s grandstand June 2; Little Big Town will get $250,000 June 15. Other headliners she signed off on for this year’s fair include comics Jim Gaffigan and Gabriel Iglesaias (getting $200,000 each) and Larry the Cable Guy (who gets $125,000). The grandstand series that famously pays its talent much more than they would get in a fair market setting, is only partially booked.
At the Paddock Stage, the Village People will get $30,000 for one show; a Tom Petty tribute will be paid $10,000 and a Who tribute will bring in $19,500.