The founder of Minus Zero Fest, Danny Bitar, strongly denies the claims made against the festival by Myles Mangino.
Emails provided to Refinery29 from Minus Zero Fest's ticketing vendor Tixr seemingly confirm that the event went smoothly from their perspective. J Dub's Event Management, the festival's vending coordinators, also confirmed a positive experience, though they did allege that Mangino's production company was the reason behind some logistical issues.
Refinery29 has reached out to Mangino for comment.
This post was originally published on January 23, 2019.
Part of the reason for the interest was that Fyre Fest — which was run by now-notorious scammer Billy McFarland — seemed like such a uniquely messed up situation, one in which festival goers paid major money for a non-existent festival riddled with poor management and planning.
Per the new report, Vermont’s Minus Zero Music Festival — which took place on a ski mountain in April of 2018 — also had plenty of Fyre Fest-like issues, which were brought to Page Six's attention after the 2019 event was canceled.
According to festival runner Myles Mangino's interview with Page Six, the festival's organiser, Danny Bitar, allegedly fired staff at the beginning of the festival due to lack of funds, allegedly leaving many without a place to sleep or food to eat during a very cold night.
"There are 150 people working in an area where the closest store is 50 miles away, in the freezing cold all night, for 12 hours," said Mangino. (Bitar denies such situations occurred.)
It isn't the only allegation against Minus Zero. Per Page Six, multiple vendors alleged that they worked without pay.
In a bizarre coincidence, a second report from Page Six also claims that the snowboarding and music festival was backed by Jason Nissen, a man who was arrested in 2017 for a scam involving fake tickets for big events like Broadway's Hamilton. This sounds wildly similar to McFarland's own scheme: While out on bail for Fyre Fest-related charges in 2018, the founder was arrested for allegedly selling fake tickets to events like the Met Gala, Burning Man, and Coachella.
The one thing that separates Minus Zero from Fyre Fest — and may be the reason we haven't heard about the festival's issues — is that the public had no idea about the alleged issues behind the scenes. For the people on the mountain, Minus Zero was nothing but a good, albeit probably very cold, time. The photos certainly look better than the tent city of Fyre Fest.
Minus Zero firmly denies the accusations. In a letter to press, sent on Thursday morning, Bitar wrote:
"The event was fully-funded signed off by all the partners. All contracts were in place with vendors, staff, and talent with deposits paid in advance 6 months prior to the festival, on a regular basis. All lodging accommodations for staff, talent and contractors were approved in advance with names listed in advance.
"Myles Mangino, being production manager for the previous years, was directed to create an environment for the best consumer experience with lodging options for all the staff, vendors and talent. It was suggested that Mount Snow was the ideal new location for the festival, however this specific resort had a challenge with lodging and local markets.
"Unfortunately, two weeks prior to the show the CEO of Area Events, John DiMatteo, suffered a major injury and was unreachable and became unable to perform any duties. Minus Zero’s management flew in from the west coast and had to pick up the ball to produce the festival.
"It was at this time, that there was surprises from few vendors, talent and staff with many requests and demands for promises that were allegedly extended outside of the agreements with Minus Zero. For example: Myles Mangino took advantage and inflamed the budget, approved under his own discretion and promised the world to all vendors and staff, even if they were just friends.
"The security manager Rich Singer practically extorted Minus Zero’s management with a forceful deployment of guards, demands for payment, and ignored requests for months leading up to the festival to reduce the quote based on ticket sales and venue’s legal security requirements.
"Anthem productions reverted on the original agreement and presented Minus Zero’s management with a surprise invoice one week prior to the show, threatening not to load the trucks.
"All local talent and artist was provided by Alex Daniel who led the art department and was offered for free to Minus Zero . One week prior to the show, he demanded that Minus Zero’s management provide hotel rooms, catering services and lift tickets for all local talent, extra staff and friends of staff.
"During this crisis, Mount Snow was amazingly supportive and gave us enough rooms and food for all contracted and approved vendors.
"The main act of the festival was an incredible talent and performed an unforgettable set that all festival goers loved, but unfortunately didn’t yield the ticket sales anticipated. Regardless, all national headliners were paid in advance of the festival and the majority of contractors had a pleasant experience. There are some people demanding payment, claiming to work, but weren't ever contracted or approved. The vendors that were contracted, Minus Zero is working diligently to find a solution and resolve final balances; companies like ParaDocs, photographers, and a few others.
"All in all, Minus Zero is very thankful to all the hard working staff, friends of staff, and anybody that worked hard during the festival, and we apologise for any inconveniences experienced."
This post has been updated to include comment from Minus Zero.