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Before bumping pet expo, Fairgrounds staff told judges scheduling conflicts would be 'unlikely'

Exotic Pet Expo.jpg
Posted at 8:41 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 23:15:18-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — The group that oversees the Fairgrounds Nashville got an earful this week from organizers of the long-running Exotic Pet Expo.

They said Fairgrounds staff bumped them from their long-planned dates for their upcoming show on the first weekend in October.

"How can you, the board, make sure this does not happen again?" asked Brendan Reynolds, head of the Nashville Exotic Pet Club.

"We know of three other long-term vendors that also had the same treatment of having their dates bumped," said Deborah Dorsey, the expo organizer.

Dorsey said the Fairgrounds never gave her expo the chance to seal the deal with a contract before the Fairgrounds told them about a month ago that the dates they had penciled in more than four years ahead of time would no longer work.

"This has been on your fairgrounds calendar for over four years, and was canceled 45 days before the event," Reynolds told the fair board at a meeting Tuesday. "That's unacceptable."

Attorney Jim Roberts says he is currently suing the fairgrounds and Metro Government over how the fairgrounds plans to deal with these kinds of scheduling conflicts.

"What you're seeing right now is exactly what we predicted," Roberts said. "Metro went on the record saying this would never happen, they repeatedly said there would never be conflicts."

In a court filing in July, the fairgrounds told a panel of judges: "meaningful scheduling conflicts" would be "unlikely," and that "scheduling...has not created any significant conflicts."

Less than a month later, fairgrounds officials sent an email to the Exotic Pet Expo citing what Fairgrounds staff said was "definitely a scheduling conflict."

Expo organizers say upwards of 10,000 people were slated to attend their show, which will now no longer happen.

Fairgrounds Nashville said Wednesday it had contracted with a different show during the time the Exotic Pet Expo had planned to hold its show.

The Fairgrounds Nashville was presented with an opportunity to book a full-venue, multi-week event for a Dealer Show. The Fairgrounds saw this as an opportunity to add to its event schedule while providing other dates for non-contracted events. It is evident the impact of the rescheduling requests for those events. We regret the inconvenience to our clients and their customers. It is imperative that we utilize best practices and we will be reviewing in depth our procedures to ensure the highest quality service to our clients and to communicate clearly our contracting processes moving forward.
Laura Womack, Fairgrounds Nashville Director