The organizer of this month’s “Trumpstock” festival is threatening legal action against the city of Kingman and Mohave County after permitting issues and a sudden change of venue for the event led to sparse attendance.
Trumpstock was meant to be a celebration of America’s 45th president, with thousands of Donald Trump supporters in attendance at Mohave County Fairgrounds. It was a festival featuring music, politicians, VIPs and one U.S. congressman, all proceeds from the event would go to Mohave County veterans. Now organizer Laurie Bezick says the event has left her financially broken, with little to give the event’s would-be beneficiaries thanks to contention from the Kingman Police Department and Mohave County officials.
“I am now $10,000 in debt,” Bezick said in a video posted to her Facebook page on Oct. 9. “I can’t afford to eat, my cell phone is shut off, we have to move because I can’t pay my rent … I am $10,000 in debt because I had about 3,000 who wanted to show up. Because I had to move my venue, only about 150 people showed up.”
Best laid plans
According to Facebook posts by Bezick, she had been planning Trumpstock since as early as March 2018, with multiple venues considered before Bezick applied to hold her event at the Mohave County Fairgrounds in Kingman. The event was scheduled to take place Oct. 4 through Oct. 6, and Bezick paid a $1,000 deposit to use the location, and began advertising the event through social media.
One day before the event was scheduled to take place, the Kingman Police Department denied Bezick’s permit to hold Trumpstock at the fairgrounds, due to security concerns. The denial prompted a last-minute change of venue for the event, to more than 30 acres of private property owned by All-American Pizza, in Golden Valley. When the City of Kingman prematurely announced on Facebook that Trumpstock was canceled, however, Bezick says the damage may have been irreparable.
According to Bezick, she had arranged to sell alcohol at the event, provided by veterans nonprofit Veterans United AZ. The proceeds from those sales would be donated to Mohave County veterans as well as 25% of all ticket sales. Instead, Bezick says, Mohave County officials forbade her from selling liquor at the event due to lack of a permit from the county to do so.
“I couldn’t pay my people,” Bezick said on the video. “I couldn’t pay a lot of people. I feel horrible … I have all these bills to pay. I don’t know how I’m gonna do it. I’m broke. I put so much money into this, I tried to make everybody happy and it wasn’t good enough. I can’t feed my kid, I can’t keep a roof over my head. I wanted to bring everyone together, have fun, celebrate being an American and our president. I couldn’t even do that. And our veterans really got screwed.”
Bezick appealed to viewers on her Facebook page last week, asking that they contact the Mohave County Fairgrounds Association and urge officials to return the $1,000 deposit she initially paid to use the location. Her deposit was never refunded.
While she remains a supporter of President Trump, Bezick says she will change her voter registration to “Independent,” having become disenfranchised with the Republican Party. She also says she may hold another Trumpstock event, but it will not be in Arizona. Bezick has said on Facebook that she intends to sue the City of Kingman and Mohave County for fraud her with malicious intent. That lawsuit has not been filed in Mohave Superior Court as of Monday.
Concerns for Mohave County
Trumpstock was a topic for discussion at Monday’s Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting, where supervisors were confused and disheartened at the chain of events that led to the event’s lack of success.
“The whole thing was so disturbing, the way it happened,” said Supervisor Hildy Angius. “I’ve been getting conflicting stories about what happened the day they denied the permit. They moved the event to the county without any notice … I’d like to get information from whoever was involved in the initial rejection, and see a report about the sequence of events.”
Angius requested at the meeting that county officials contact Kingman representatives to find out, if possible, how events unfolded as they did for Trumpstock.
“My concern is about our part in the event process,” Angius said. “Apparently we’re not letting people know well enough in advance what the procedure is. But letting event organizers know their permit’s denied the day before it’s scheduled? That should never happen. I want the county to have a specific policy, and the board just wants more information on how these things happen.”
According to Supervisor Buster Johnson, Besick’s situation was untenable, but her failure to secure proper permitting with the county before Trumpstock’s change of venue could have put any number of eventgoers at risk.
“The county needed to stick by its own rules and regulations,” Johnson said. “Trumpstock was promoted as an event intended for ‘thousands’ … our permits are there in order to protect health, safety and welfare of visitors of these events.”
For Bezick, however, a special event permit from Mohave County would have required six months’ advance notice. Due to the Kingman Police Department’s denial of her permit to use the Mohave County Fairgrounds, Bezick had one day to prepare for her event.
Because of this, Johnson said, the event had no insurance, no signage, no traffic control, no alcohol permit, no camping permit, no restroom facilities, no patio extension for drinking on-property at the location, no approval from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and no food safety inspection. According to Johnson, the event – which also featured an appearance by Congressman Paul Gosar – also had no professional security agency to provide protection for guests and VIPs.
“We just had the two-year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting,” Johnson said. “They had permits, had security – it had everything that was required, and a tragedy still happened.”
According to Johnson, officials from the Mohave County Public Works Department and the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office told Bezick that if her event became too crowded, she would have to get proper permitting.
County officials are expected to examine permitting statutes, and determine what steps, if any, could prevent such circumstances from happening again.
Attempting to recover
Last Thursday, Bezick announced that she had moved to Las Vegas. As of Monday morning, attempts to contact Bezick by telephone were unsuccessful. Supporters of Bezick have created a GoFundMe account to help Bezick recover financially from Trumpstock’s loss. That account can be found by visiting www.gofundme.com, and typing "Trumpstock" into the search bar.