Country Jam sues to stop competing act

The Wisconsin-based ownership of Country Jam is asking a federal judge to block a competing event planned for late June, saying the man behind Bobby’s Birthday Bash has violated a contractual agreement.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin, attorneys representing Country Jam, the longtime country music festival in Mack, asked for temporary and permanent injunctions, in addition to monetary damages against Bobby Willis.

Willis is proposing a free music festival June 23–25 on 82 acres near Loma just north of Interstate 70. The event would coincide with Country Jam, which will mark 20 years in Mack with performers slated for June 23–26.

Willis approached Country Jam officials in September about purchasing the Mack festival. In doing so, Willis signed a confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement before he was provided a host of information about the event, according to the lawsuit. The materials included “all contracts with sponsors, all of their contracts with artists/entertainers, budgets, expense information, tax returns, profit and loss statements, pricing information, sales figures, equipment lists, advertising information and permit information,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleges the sale fell apart when Willis, who initially agreed to purchase Country Jam for $8.25 million in cash, instead tried to complete the deal with an exchange of land he owns in New Mexico, which “he represented was worth at least the $8.25 million asking price.”

When asked to return the proprietary information, Willis refused, and he is now using the material to plan a competing event, the lawsuit alleges.

Willis denied any wrongdoing in an interview published in Tuesday’s Daily Sentinel. At one point during the interview, Willis referred to Joe Coleman, a Grand Junction attorney working for Country Jam, as a “lying sack of (expletive).”

The lawsuit suggests logistics of two simultaneous, large-scale festivals will prove to be a headache for local law enforcement.

“Bobby’s Birthday Bash will be in direct competition with Country Jam and will create health and safety concerns because of traffic problems associated with attempts to operate large, 20–30,000 Country Jam attendance estimates, and unknown attendance at a ‘free’ Bobby’s Birthday Bash event within a mile or two of each other in an area with the population base in the 100s of people within the immediate area of the competing festivals,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit also claims Country Jam would be harmed by a free-admission festival, which would constitute “predatory pricing practices” in violation of federal law.

New Mexico-based Bobby’s Birthday Bash LLC filed an application Thursday with Mesa County planners for a conditional-use permit for the proposed festival.

The application notes plans for a second, rock-themed festival sometime later in the summer.


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