Trail of beer expo organizer turns cold

Published on January 9, 2014
Mud Immortal organizer Jonathan Brett speaks to participants before the event at Butter Pot Provincial Park in this Telegram file photo.

Great Canadian Beer Expo organizer Jonathan Brett has disconnected his phone, shut down his email addresses associated with the event, and taken down the expo’s Facebook page — but at least one customer has managed to get a refund for tickets.

Julie Guy had bought a pair of tickets for the beer expo’s Halifax event at the Cunard Centre though Brett’s website, paying $50 each, plus a processing fee. The centre said Wednesday it had no contract with Brett for the rental of the space, and it only allows tickets to be sold through a recognized ticketing agent, like Ticket Atlantic.

Guy decided to ask for a refund after CBC in Nova Scotia aired a story Wednesday naming Brett as the organizer of the beer expo and connecting him with last fall’s Mud Immortal debacle in St. John’s. Brett had organized a five-kilometre obstacle run at Butterpot Park — while he was in personal bankruptcy, it was later discovered — leaving hundreds of participants upset due to a lack of clean water, unsafe obstacles, no food and a list of other problems.

The money, which Brett said would be going to charity, was not donated to the Alzheimer’s Society as planned (after waiting more than a week, the society announced it would not take any donations from the event) and a class-action lawsuit against Brett by participants is underway.

 Since the beer expo website said no refunds would be given, Guy emailed Brett personally, asking for her money back. She received a reply from him late Wednesday evening.

 “We are aware of the story that recently aired,” Brett wrote. “The Halifax event IS happening. We will be contacting Cunard in the AM to get clarification on any miscommunication that may have occurred. However, in the very worst scenario for any of our events, if any of them must be cancelled, we would 100% be offering refunds to attendees. We do apologize for the confusion.”

Guy told The Telegram she wanted a refund regardless, given what she learned about Mud Immortal, and she put in a PayPal request for a refund. Within a half an hour, Brett gave her back her money.

 This morning, a number of venues across the Maritimes that were in talks with Brett about renting the space for the beer expo received a message from him saying the expo was being cancelled “due to unforeseen circumstances.” He has told them he will be giving refunds to people who purchased tickets — how many did is unknown — although with no public email address, no public cellphone and no Facebook group, there is no way for participants to reach him.

Brett has ignored many attempts by The Telegram for comment on the beer expo and clarification about where the money raised from Mud Immortal has gone. Calls to his cellphone Wednesday night rang out before being picked up by an answering machine that was full; two hours later, the phone number had been disconnected. His email address and the Great Canadian Beer Expo Facebook page were both shut down by 10 a.m.

The Telegram is working on an update to this story.

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