Event organizer’s legal troubles unlikely to halt Falls festival - The Buffalo News
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Event organizer’s legal troubles unlikely to halt Falls festival

NIAGARA FALLS – This weekend’s Niagara Falls Music and Art Festival appears likely to go on as scheduled, despite the recent legal trouble for the event’s main organizer.

The fourth annual event will run Friday through Sunday on Old Falls Street, marking its first year as a three-day festival.

Richard A. Crogan, the festival’s executive director, was charged earlier this month with three felonies alleging he used festival sponsorship money to pay for personal expenses. This is the second year in a row the festival is a for-profit venture for Crogan’s Balabans LLC.

Crogan issued a statement last week in the wake of the charges promising the event will go on, a sentiment repeated by his attorney late last week.

“Everything is in place for the Niagara Falls Music and Arts Festival to go forward as planned on June 20 to 22,” Crogan said in his written statement. “Hope to see you there to support the many great musicians, artists and vendors.”

The message came four days after the 56-year-old Crogan appeared in court to face the charges that clouded the future of the event.

This isn’t the first time Crogan has run into legal trouble.

Crogan was sentenced to a year of probation in Florida in January 1997 for writing a bad check, according to online records of Broward County Court. Crogan, who was originally charged in 1993, took a plea and agreed to pay $250 in restitution.

“It’s so long ago,” Crogan said Monday. “I had moved to another city and didn’t know about the situation until it happened.”

Crogan and his attorney, Michael S. Deal, have vowed to fight the most recent charges. Crogan is due back in court Aug. 8.

In terms of this weekend, the festival has received its city permit, and all the conditions are being met, so the city has no basis to rescind the permit, said Mayor Paul A. Dyster.

Last week, Dyster would not comment when asked if the city was considering pulling the permit from Crogan’s business in the wake of the charges.

“There were certain obligations that he had to meet in order to qualify for and then to implement the permit,” Dyster said. “As long as he is fulfilling those conditions, we wouldn’t have a reason to.”

Last year’s festival included a preview night on Friday, rather than an official third day. It included a bar crawl, street festival and live music.

This will be the second year for the event on Old Falls Street, having moved there last year after two years on Main Street. When the festival took place on Main Street, it was run as a nonprofit event.

The hours of this year’s festival are Friday, 4 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.

About three dozen bands are scheduled to perform on two stages over the course of the three days, with 40 artists and artisans displaying and selling their wares.

There will also be a beer garden and a beer tent.

The lineup of performers at this year’s festival includes the Thurman Brothers, Clyde, Russ Vesci & the Graveyard Blues Band, Keith Shuskie & Den of Lions, Rick Rhodes Band, Dive House Union, The Instigators, The Dave Viterna Group, Dave Stayner, Tim Andrews and Billy Hickey.

Saturday, a motorcycle run to benefit Wings Flights of Hope, a nonprofit that provides free air transportation for medical and humanitarian purposes, will be held. Registration starts at 11 a.m. Riders will receive a pin and a free hot dog and beverage for participating.

Zumba classes will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday in front of the main stage.

There will also be a children’s workshop sponsored by Home Depot, where kids can learn how to build birdhouses and airplanes, among other things. Two sessions will be held on a first-come, first-served basis at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.

For more information on the festival, visit www.festivalatthefalls.com.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com

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