Chet Greason, Gazette Staff
In a press release sent out 29 hours before Thirsty Thursday was to take place, organizer Chris Parson announced the benefit concert would be postponed due to issues regarding the procurement of a special occasion permit from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
The event, to raise money for the Stratford Cash for Splash campaign aimed at building a splash pad, would’ve featured performances by popular rock band Blue Rodeo, as well as the return of Steve “Yeager” Adair, who has been recovering after a car accident that happened this time last year.
Thirsty Thursday was to be a the reimagining of the successful benefit concert held in 2012 in support of Adair and the other two area musicians injured in the crash, Andrew Bailey and Fred Chiapolino, although this time with the splash pad initiative as the beneficiary.
The event was to be held at the Rotary Centre March 28.
“At this point, we have no liquor license,” said Parson in an interview shortly after the press release announcing the postponement, adding that he had met all of the requests made to him from the AGCO. “I don’t know what else to say other than we did everything in our power to have it happen.”
According to Parson, 1,300 tickets had already been sold for the event, and more were expected to buy their tickets at the door.
He added that these advance tickets would still be accepted once a new date was set, ideally in May, and that ticketholders not able to attend would be offered a refund.
According to spokesperson Lisa Murray, the AGCO only received the application from Parson last week, whereas large events of this nature typically submit their applications 30 days in advance.
“We were working with the organizer in an effort to expedite the process,” she said. “However, we received a call from the applicant yesterday saying he couldn’t meet the conditions (of the permit).”
Murray explained that public special occasion permits for large events come with standard stipulations addressing public safety, including requirements set by police, EMS, and the city. She added that she is not aware of which particular condition Parson was unable to meet.
However, Parson said a meeting took place on March 25 between members of the Stratford police, city officials, the AGCO, private security, and organizers where all questions regarding the event were answered.
“We felt that everything was in order,” he said. “I thought everything was fine.”
Jim Bryson, facilities manager for the city, said there was nothing from the city that prevented the event from going forward.
“In fact, we bent over backwards in order to make it happen. Now we’re left tearing down for an event that was supposed to happen tomorrow,” he added.
Not letting the license issue ruin the party, Adair has organized The Yeager Band and Southwest Mountain After Thought Party at Backstage Bar and Grill for tonight at 8 p.m.
“Sad about the Blue Rodeo Concert ......But happy for every day!” reads the event’s Facebook page.
This new event will feature a silent auction in support of Cash for Splash, as well as donations accepted at the door.
Meanwhile, Parson said Blue Rodeo is disappointed but is helping to find a new date for Thirsty Thursday.
“They want to come perform here. They want to support the cause,” he said.
Murray said the AGCO would be willing to cooperate with Parson should he decide to resubmit his application.
“If he wants to set a date and start the process again ... we’d be willing to work with him.”