Amanda Jackson / Staff writer
Beach Fest was a music festival scheduled March 15-17 at Cole Park and McGee beach but was abruptly shut down Sat March 16 in the afternoon at Cole Park. “Beach Fest was supposed to be a community event to help charities,” said Beth Guarneri, the chair and event supervisor of Beach Fest and Director of the foundation, “it was suppose to be a big music event put on for the city to help not only my charity [The Elizabeth Guarneri Foundation] but other non-profits as well.”
According to Israel Dinn, Beach Fest talent/security supervisor, he was there from “day one” when he and Guarneri were discussing the homeless situation in Corpus Christi. Dinn said Guarneri told him her ideas about starting a shelter and foundation. The idea to fundraise for the proposed foundation began with Beach Fest.
“The reason I jumped on board with Beach Fest was because I wanted to give back to this community,” said Dinn.
Dinn is on the board of the Foundation and after Beach Fest, he was under the impression that the Foundation was going to fund a shelter and it would create future employment for him and other committee members.
“This event grabbed my heart,” Dinn said. “This is my job security; it was to show my family, my kids this compassion for this shelter.”
Victoria Macias-Davila, Beach Fest sponsor coordinator, who is also on the board of the Foundation, said she was under the same impression. Macias-Davila said, “I just kept thinking this was going to be a great thing and I could work there.”
Dinn and Macias-Davila and others worked with Guarneri getting Beach Fest together. According to documents, the festival was to donate 15 percent of all profits and sponsorships to The Elizabeth Guarneri Foundation. All other non-profits would be given a free booth at the event to raise money for their own charities.
On Feb. 10 the Certificate of Formation Non-Profit Corporation was filed for The Elizabeth Guarneri Foundation. According to this document, the foundation does not go into effect until May 10, 2013.
“This is when the event switched to a for-profit event, since they couldn’t raise money for the foundation,” Dinn said.
There were up to 60 bands and performers set to take stage March 15-17. About a dozen vendors and non-profits stocked food and merchandise to sell during these days, according to Dinn. The event had sponsors like Thomas J. Henry and Budweiser.
“When Thomas J. Henry came on, all these big acts came in like Big Chocolate and La Conqusita,” said Dinn. “Everything seemed to be in order. [Beth] would talk to me play-by-play.”
According to Dinn, half the profits of all beer sales went to Beer 30, the business that used their alcohol license to sell alcohol at the festival. Dinn said Guarneri was in charge of all the money and would pay Budweiser for inventory sold. The remaining profits would be split between Guarneri, her mother, Dinn, and Derek Lemon , Beach Fest EDM coordinator.
The festival kicked off Friday March 15. According to Roy Reyes, contractor and foundation board member, there was confusion about the vendor booths and many were still being built that day.
“When we made vendor booths, Beth gave me $350 for wood,” Reyes said. “We didn’t have enough money so I used my own. I kept receipts and turned them into Beth for the supplies. I still haven’t been paid back.”
According to Dinn, several of the non-profits had to help set up and build their own booths.
The next day, March 16, the event at Cole Park was shut down. According to Macias-Davila and Dinn, profits were to be made by the beer sales, but the beer was not selling because of the beer garden’s location.
Organizers decided to move the beer garden closer to the amphitheater so it would sell more beer. To move the beer garden they would need to have the Skid-O-Kan portable restrooms moved. They would not move the restrooms because they still were waiting to be paid, according to Macias-Davila and Dinn.
While these events were occurring, off-duty police officers hired to work festival security were looking for Guarneri, according to Dinn and Macias-Davila. The officers had not received payment from working Friday night and were told they would be paid Saturday. Both Dinn and Macias-Davila said they tried contacting Guarneri by phone but had no idea where she was.
“I was getting fencing and supplies when this was going on,” said Guarneri. “The police wanted their payment. We didn’t have a contract with them, so I didn’t know how much to pay at the moment.
“At the park we didn’t have the money to pay it and we weren’t given the opportunity to go get it,” said Guarneri. “This is when Budweiser decided to leave and so did the cops. This string of events lead to [the stage at] Cole Park being shut down.”
According to Dinn, the permit was pulled for Cole Park because there was no security.
When the shut down happened, hip hop acts were on stage at the amphitheater. According to Joseph “JBoss” Aceves of Money Bosses Entertainment, one of the Beach Fest hip hop stage coordinators, they had about 28 acts and only four actually got to perform before the stage was shut down. Many of these acts paid for merchandise tables and applications fees, according to Aceves.
“I paid a $25 fee,” said Abel “AB DVinic” Benavides. “I didn’t get to perform. I am disappointed.”
According to Richard “Nitey Nite” Trevino of Dirty Waterz/Ugly Swag Ent and stage coordinator, Guarneri kept saying she was going to get contracts out to everyone but kept putting it off.
“She offered to pay me after the event,” said Aceves. “How you going to pay me when you owe all these other people money? Pay them,” he said.
The festival moved to McGee Beach where another stage was set up.
“Even though I wasn’t captain of this ship, I stayed by it till the end,” said Macias-Davila. “People threw stuff at me and cussed at me, but I stayed.”
According to Macias-Davila, many artists from out of town had showed up and even decided to perform on stage knowing they were not going to get paid.
“Even Lil Flip’s team showed up and wanted to play but since we didn’t have microphones they left,” said Macias-Davila.
“This event would have been successful if we got to stay Saturday night,” said Guarneri.
“The two biggest misconceptions people have is that the money was misused and it wasn’t. I know because I was in charge of it,” said Guarneri. “And the police were going to be paid.”
According to Guarneri, she had organized many events before, like the Latin Rap Awards and many benefits. “I was not unorganized,” said Guarneri, “the support just didn’t come through. It was the most organized event I have done.”
Where they go from here
According to Guarneri, she has obtained a lawyer, Jeffery Rank, to go through all documents and see who needs to be reimbursed and where to move forward. Also Guarneri said a CPA will be going through all financial records and as soon as her lawyer and CPA are ready to make a statement she will.
“Not only did I take a financial hit with this festival, but so did my foundation,” said Guarneri.
In regards to moving forward, Guarneri said, “We want to let these issues at hand be my first priority before anything else.”
According to Macias-Davila and Dinn, the outcome of Beach Fest has negatively impacted their lives despite their intentions.
“I love Corpus Christi,” said Macias-Davila. “This is my city; they had nothing to do with the downfall. “Neither did the cops or the acts. It all came down to the money. Where we needed it, it wasn’t.”
“This has scarred me emotionally and my trust,” said Macias-Davila, “[Beth] still can’t stand up and say sorry, I wish she would just apologize to us.”
Dinn said, “This is embarrassing for me; this is my city. I hate that these people I know got screwed this way. This event screwed up my credibility as a promoter. My family and my kids were let down.”
According to Dinn, because of the financial impact the event had on him, he now gets assistance from the Salvation Army.
“I now have to get help from the charities that I was suppose to help,” Dinn said.