TRURO – What was supposed to be an exciting year of planning for the 10th annual Dutch Mason Blues Festival has become a quagmire of confusion and controversy for founder/promoter David DeWolfe.
“Right now I feel gutted. My enthusiasm is kind of gone,” DeWolfe said, during a recent interview with the Truro Daily News regarding the issues that have plagued plans for this year’s milestone festival.
“It certainly has dampened the enthusiasm for the festival. I’m trying now to get it back,” he said, of the effects related to delays created by the financial woes at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition (NSPE) and also because of disparaging comments made about him by a Colchester County Councillor Bill Masters questioning DeWolfe’s business integrity.
“I can’t trust someone whose word is no good,” Masters said, as part of his comments at a recent council meeting during discussion over a written request from DeWolfe for a $20,000 municipal contribution to the festival.
Masters said at that time, he had been informed by a local, unnamed businessperson that a bill relating to a previous Dutch Mason festival had been sent to collection for non payment.
But DeWolfe, who through his lawyer has asked for a public retraction, said Masters should not have made the comments without knowing more about the situation.
“How do I defend myself with a personal attack like that?” he asked. “It’s different if they talk about it and say something in private. It’s different if it is anybody else but a politician. The problem here is, I don’t know Mr. Masters. I have never met him. I wouldn’t know him if he was sitting right here next to you.”
DeWolfe said the incident that Masters referred to involved an “unauthorized thing that I didn’t order and I didn’t purchase.”
“I even refused to even take the order in the first place,” he said. “It was done by someone without my knowledge.”
DeWolfe said that he nonetheless paid 50 per cent of the bill in question, after which he thought “everything was fine” until the business was sold and the new owner decided to send the bill to collection.
He said that bill has been settled, however, and he does not agree that his name should have been publicly tarnished by someone who did not have all the facts surrounding the issue.
“To say that I am not trustworthy, from a guy that I’ve never met. To say my word is no good. Say all you want about the Dutch Mason Blues Festival, say I’m a bad businessman, I don’t know how to manage anything, I’m bad financially. Whatever you want to say. But there is nobody is going to sit here and tell me that I’m not trustworthy and my word is no good,” DeWolfe said. “Because I’ve delivered everything I’ve ever promised ever, regarding this festival.”
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While acknowledging that there have been years when the festival made money and other lean years when it has struggled financially, DeWolfe said that is no different than what many other businesses operations experience.
But DeWolfe said he generally has a good relationship with his festival suppliers, which he suggested would not be the case if he were as untrustworthy as Masters implied.
“Where the hell is all the outrage?” he asked, if his reputation was as bad as suggested in council.
“I am in good standing with all my suppliers.”
The delays caused by the changes to the NSPE management has meant that he has had to adjust the the concert roster three times, DeWolfe said.
“So I’m brining a lineup that wasn’t my originally planned line up,” he said, adding it will nonetheless be a “high-end, quality” group of performers who will take the stage in August.
“But it’s unfortunate that it happened this year on the 10th year and it’s unfortunate that it’s taken this long to get it squared away,” DeWolfe said. And it’s unfortunate that there are some misleading opinions being expressed. It’s certainly going to affect the festival … it affects my staff, it affects me, it affects my family, it affects sponsors it affects people that want to attend the festival,” DeWolfe said.
And while it has not been easy gearing up for this year’s festival, the positive response he has received following the comments by Masters, through emails, phone calls and other correspondence has convinced him the show must go on, he said.
“This thing is bigger than all of us. It should be something that this province, this town, this community should stand up and be so proud of.”