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Boat Week organizer cancels event, demands money back from Huron

Heather Chapin-Fowler • Aug 18, 2010 at 7:07 AM

The organizer of Lake Erie Boat Week has abruptly canceled the event, despite her ongoing promises that she would hurdle any obstacle to make it happen.

"We regret very much that the event has been canceled," Mayor Marilyn Shearer said, when told of the cancellation Tuesday evening. "The promoter failed to live up to her end of the contract. We were unable to work with her."

Janie Vogel, the event organizer, didn't participate in a statement issued by the city about the cancellation and didn't return a call seeking comment.

Vogel sent notices Tuesday to the city, canceling the event "due to a lack of financial viability" and demanded her money back.

On Aug. 9, Vogel gave the city about $9,000 as a down payment on the lease agreement she signed with officials late last month.

"Ms. Vogel offered no explanation as to the specific circumstances leading to this outcome and refused to comment on an exit strategy to inform the community of the event's demise. Her only statements were to advise the contract does not require her to provide explanation and to demand a return of funds," stated a news release issued Tuesday afternoon by city manager Andy White.

During the past year, negotiations between White, other city staff and Vogel were at times strained and contentious due to an inability to agree on many aspects of the event and its preparations.

"The city, and greater Erie County community, worked for over a year with Ms. Vogel to support the event's establishment. Miscommunication and misunderstanding became commonplace throughout this period, culminating with today's abrupt cancellation and demand for return of funds," White stated.

"As recently as eight days ago Vogel pledged publicly, '(I) do not feel the event is being diminished by any means and . . . could draw even larger crowds.' It should be noted Vogel was attending a meeting to address three breaches to the event's contract with the city -- most notably the absence of appropriate insurance to conduct the proposed event's activities on water," White stated.

Within a week after signing the contract with the city, Vogel terminated her contract with the American Power Racing (APR) Powerboat Super league "despite her responsibility to the city to produce an APR event as part of Lake Erie Boat Week," the release also stated.

"While the city understands each and every proposed event may not come to full and immediate fruition, it is with grave disappointment this release is issued independently without input from Vogel... In fact, the event's official website is still advertising a full scale operation for next month and references a 2011 event despite the contradicting action taken by Vogel this morning," White stated.

As of late Tuesday, Vogel's website remained unchanged.

"We're just very sorry it has been canceled," Shearer said. "Our entire administrative staff has worked very hard to make this happen. But it's just been an uphill battle."

The disappointment of local officials likely mirrors those in Port Clinton, where Vogel also failed to establish a boat week last year.

Vogel signed on several local sponsors for the event, which was slated to begin Sept. 7. Whether monetary donations and support will be reimbursed to the local businesses remains unknown.

Police Chief John Majoy said he isn't sure what to expect.

"Everything is really still in the infancy stage at this point," he said.

Most likely, the police department will refer the matter of any potentially unpaid funds to the civil court to mediate, Majoy added.

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