— Telegram file photo
Businessman Jonathan Brett’s latest venture is exactly the reason why a group of Mud Immortal participants has not let him off the hook, and they are pleased to see it cancelled.
“What’s been hurtful is there were individuals commenting on The Telegram and CBC websites, saying we should just shut up, suck it up and move on and forget about it,” said Carla Crotty, a Mud Immortal participant and member of a group hoping to launch a class-action lawsuit against Brett with lawyer Bob Buckingham.
“This is exactly why we won’t — we don’t want anyone to go through the same thing.”
Brett had been promoting the Great Canadian Beer Expo in the Maritimes — a travelling event with six stops across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island between now and late spring — and he had posted on Twitter he was organizing a similar event for Western Canada for later this year. At $50 a ticket, Brett, through social media and a website, was promising live entertainment, food and an all-round good time.
It’s something Crotty said people have heard before.
Last September, more than 5,100 people registered for Mud Immortal, a five-kilometre obstacle race in Butterpot Park organized by Brett — while he was in personal bankruptcy, it was later discovered.
Highly promoted in advance, it ended up a debacle, with what participants say was a lack of clean water, unsafe obstacles (many of them broken), no food and a list of other problems. On the T-shirts given to Mud Immortal participants, the Great Canadian Beer Expo was listed as a sponsor.
The money collected, which Brett had said would go to the local branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, was not donated and, after waiting more than a week, the society announced it would not accept any funds raised from the event.
Brett issued a media statement after that, saying it would be given to another worthwhile charity.
“I had a feeling he would creep up again somewhere,” Crotty said. “Did I think it would be so quick or so close to home? No, I’m shocked at that.”
Brett had been selling tickets for the beer expo online, with dates, times and venues advertised. A number of those venues, speaking to CBC Nova Scotia Wednesday, said they had no contract in place with Brett to rent the spaces.
A representative from Halifax’s Cunard Centre said the centre only allows tickets to be sold through a recognized ticketing agent, not personal event websites.
The Telegram has discovered the event would not have been permitted in P.E.I. — the liquor commission doesn’t approve beer festivals in the province unless it is a partner in them.
This decision came after two beer festivals with similar names were held weeks apart in the fall of 2012, causing confusion.
Many of the venues promoted by Brett as part of the beer expo said Thursday morning they had received a message from him saying the event was being cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
A group of Maritime brewers said they felt the expo was sketchy from the start; the amateurish website, no listing of available beers, no volunteers needed and no name or contact of organizers were among their concerns.
“(He was) stalling on questions regarding the beer list, and blaming NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Corp.) for this,” explained Robert McGrath, a home brewer in Nova Scotia and member of online forum Brewnosers.
“The connection was made after I made a comment on the Brewnosers forum about not wanting to get involved in an event with no contact names. Somebody mentioned that the .pdf that was sent to breweries … had a contact name — Jonathan Brett. Literally three minutes later on Google, the connection was made.”
The beer expo’s Facebook site has since been removed, and the list of venues has been taken off the website.
Calls to Brett’s cellphone went to a full mailbox. The number was later disconnected.
In an email late Thursday, Brett denied any email addresses associated with the expo have been shut down.
“Furthermore, every ticket holder for a GCBE event has been emailed and explained that ticket refunds have begun and will continue automatically,” he said.
As for the cellphone, “I changed my personal cell number last night after an individual posted it online encouraging people to call and text the number.”
Further than that, Brett declined to make any further comment on Mud Immortal.
In addition to a civil suit, the RCMP is conducting an investigation into the Mud Immortal situation, and Crotty was one of a number of participants to be interviewed as part of that. Police have yet to reach Brett for questioning, she said she was told.