Tac-O-Treat is the latest in a long line of apparent scams
[Editor’s note: Recently, we covered the Tacos and Tequila Festival as well. That festival is different than Tac-O-Treat. Unlike Tac-O-Treat, the Tacos and Tequila Festival is legitimate, run by local vendors, and is still selling tickets.]
Adam Dobres of Tucson, AZ has reportedly been stringing along would-be festival goers around the country with promises of tacos, margaritas, and live music at a series of taco festivals in 2021.
According to documents provided by Alec Thompson, Dobres is to be the man behind multiple LLCs responsible for organizing a chain of festivals that include a stop in Kansas City, Tac-O-Treat, scheduled for Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.
Earlier stops in Dobres’ festival circuit that were not cancelled have notably failed to deliver even a fraction of what was promised in previous cities such as Buffalo, Scranton, Pittsburg, Fargo, and Des Moines. The Fargo event, which allegedly had just two taco trucks on-site, prompted an investigation from the office of North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
Complaints on social media and local press coverage have heaped criticism on the organizers for trends of long lines, general disorganization, woefully underprepared and understocked vendors and food trucks, poor sanitation, lack of selection, failure to recognize free taco vouchers given to VIP attendees, and even food poisoning have run amok on the internet. As a result, many of the scheduled festivals are now being cancelled by venues in upcoming cities. Many compared the situation to the Netflix-documented scam that was the Fyre Festival of 2017.
Facebook event pages for these postponed events claim that those who have purchased a ticket (ranging from $10 to $40 for VIP tickets) will not “need to do anything to receive a refund” within “the next few days.” For many, this hasn’t been the case. [We will update this story as more details on the refund process become available.]
Dobres’ company, AZ Food Festivals, LLC., the organizer for these events, claims to be “a world class event planning team” that has existed since 2018—even though state records indicate that the company was registered in March of this year. The AZ Food Festivals site has a comment form buried at the bottom of their homepage but otherwise offers no contact information for the festival organizers.
Efforts to stifle disgruntled customers who have posted dissenting social media comments seem to be an ongoing trend as well. Many have complained that their posts on affiliated Facebook event pages continue to disappear soon after they are sent. Some are even blocked altogether.
Dobres, who has at least half a dozen LinkedIn pages—four of which advertise his location as Tucson—has had his name attached to similar events in the past. A 2019 event, advertised as “Bar Crawl Unlimited” (with a now inactive website) warranted a warning from the Better Business Bureau, dated April 17, 2019.
“BBB serving Southern Arizona has compiled a complaint digest, summarizing the pattern of complaints which include; Refund or Exchange Issues, Service Issues and Delivery Issues… As of today July 15, 2019 BBB has not received a response from the business,” the update read.
At the time this story was published, there were over 53 complaints available to view on the BBB’s website. Dobres is listed as the principal owner of the business Bar Crawl Unlimited, and the BBB lists Kick’N Dirt Entertainment and Desert Sky Event Planning & Pro Artist Agency as aliases for the same operation.
A Sept. 7 post by a since-deleted Reddit user warning Kansas Citians to not attend the festival has garnered nearly 100 responses.
Another thread in the Buffalo, NY subreddit, has prompted feedback from bamboozled festival goers. The author of the post, u/jarredpickles87, wanted to warn others after his wife had attended the Buffalo event.
“My wife and her friends went and said it was a colossal failure of an event. We’re trying to figure out how to maybe get refunds or at the very least make sure AZ Food Festivals can’t come to town any more. One of my wife’s friends said that this same company does some bar crawls here and she got swindled then too. Event was cancelled, no refund. That was booked through Eventbrite as well. I can’t imagine this time will be any easier or different,” they wrote.
One comment on the post, from u/suicydking shed light on the poor sanitary conditions they’d experienced at the same event.
“The taco table had a steamer tray full of tortillas still in the plastic, bathing in the hot water (not in a pan, but in the steamer water). There were also loose tortillas in a pan over the water. I saw a worker taking the sealed bags out of the water and laying them dripping wet on the loose tortillas as they rearranged the tray before putting the bagged tortillas back in the water. There was only meat and tortillas. No toppings of any kind. I was one of the first group(s) served,” they wrote.
Like many of these users, we have reached out to Dobres but have yet to receive a reply.
[This story will be updated to reflect any future developments.]