|Huge crowds attended Rick Crogan's Festival at the Falls last weekend. Crogan (below) next to sponsor's signage.
Over the weekend Rick Crogan, the promoter who last year staged the wildly successful Niagara Music and Arts Festival, pulled off another successful show.
Crogan was arrested earlier this month on felony charges that he misappropriated money, made promises to people that he would turn his show into a not-for-profit event and did not deliver on promises made to a main sponsor of the show, Windows by Anderson of Rochester.
Over the weekend, 35 local bands played before an estimated 21,000 concert goers on Old Falls St. during Crogan's three-day festival that started Friday night.
In addition to the bands, there were 25 local food vendors and 40 art vendors.
Despite claims of not getting what was promised by Crogan, Windows by Anderson got prominent banners on the stages, two pages of advertisements in the festival's promotional booklet and space at the concerts to sell their product.
Sources say that no representatives of Anderson showed up during the weekend. Anderson paid $15,000 for sponsorships for Crogan's events.
The company paid Crogan without a written agreement.
"The festival was a huge success," said Crogan's partner and spouse, Michael Murphy. "Western New York has some tremendous talent and every band was tremendous."
Asked why the bands were all local, Murphy said, "We wanted to keep it local. It generates pride about the community. It helps local bands get their name out there and helps establish a following. Countless tourists were asking 'does this happen every weekend?'"
When Crogan was asked why he insisted on hiring only local talent, he said, "We have so much talent in this area there is no need to bring in $20,000 -$30,000 bands. We have so much talent that wants to play and wants to have exposure."
He rattled off a list of performers who played at the festival who he says have world class potential.
"We drew more than the taxpayer funded Hard Rock concerts," Crogan said. "It was the Artpark crowd (without taxpayer subsidies). Tons of Lewiston people, tons of people from LaSalle. Great music is great music. People would like to see a name event, sure. But not some (Hard Rock has-been) act from the 70's or 80's, who are getting ready to retire."
The Reporter learned that tourists from Canada came across the border to attend the event after seeing it from their hotel windows.
In some quarters, the arrest of Crogan seems somewhat akin to handing out a speeding ticket at the Indianapolis 500.
In 2011, Idaho promoter Mark Rivers walked away from Niagara Falls without accounting for $480,000 in public money he said he lost staging his disastrous wintertime Holiday Market extravaganza; and the Hard Rock Café has never been called upon to account for the more than $700,000 in public money it has raked in for staging Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster's concert series.
Why those outrages have not been given the law enforcement attention lavished on Crogan and his comparatively measly $15,000 deal is uncertain.
Just as uncertain is whether or not Dyster and the Hard Rock will take over Crogan's festival, adding fistfuls of taxpayer money, and plans for a bailout next year.
Rumors to that effect are being widely circulated, and everyone knows how much the mayor loves playing the hero, so long as it's on somebody else's dime.
Meantime public sympathy seems heavily in support of Crogan, one of the few promoters to pull off a successful concert downtown without public money.
However, Becky Chappell-Marchetti, the manager of tellers at Encompass Federal Credit Union, on Military Rd., who is Crogan's main accuser, referring to Crogan, posted on Facebook, "the people should be infuriated by the alleged actual criminal here. They don't hand out felony charges without good reason."
Marchetti opened Crogan's company bank account and made herself a signatory to the account.
Back in December, Crogan told the Reporter that Marchetti added her name without telling him, something she could easily do since she worked at the credit union.
Asked to comment, Marchetti said, "The (Niagara County Sheriff) investigator told me I don't even know what they ended up finding. So what I say is not going to cover (what the trial is going to be about.)"
Asked if it were true that she hoped to quit her job at the credit union to become a full time concert promoter and was disappointed by Crogan, prompting her accusations, she said. "That's not true and I am not going to go into rumors. It is all sensationalism… I will let the facts ride and when the trial happens everything will come out."
Asked about the case Crogan also declined comment.
"All I can say is the truth will come out. Cream rises to the top," he said.