Canceled fair acts sue for their fees
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | July 18,2014
Two of its regular acts are taking the Vermont State Fair to court.
Magician Lance Gifford and stuntwoman Tina Winn, who performs under the name “Galaxy Girl,” have filed lawsuits against the Rutland County Agricultural Society, which runs the annual late-summer fair.
Organizers canceled contracts with a number of acts earlier this year, Gifford’s and Winn’s among them.
Gifford and Winn are represented by attorney Matt Hart, who is also representing ousted fair president and manager Richard Rivers in mediation about the termination of his contract.
Winn’s lawsuit asserts she was “legally entitled to rely on the Contract” and seeks unspecified damages.
Gifford’s lawsuit cites a clause in each contract saying canceling the agreement “requires the full face amount of the contract to become immediately due and payable to the injured party except in the event of any performance or performances contemplated herein that cannot be completed or performed by reason of fire, casualty and unavoidable accident.”
Gifford’s contract was for $14,500, Winn’s for $13,500, according to papers filed as part of the lawsuits.
Stacy Chapman, attorney for the fair, said he did not share the plaintiffs’ interpretation of the clause.
“We don’t view it as an ‘iron-clad’ provision, number one,” he said. “Number two, we disagree with the suit itself in that we don’t believe that the fair is contractually bound. There are a number of legal arguments we plan to make.”
Chapman declined to go into those arguments, and said he hoped the cases would be resolved prior to the fair.
“I’m in contact with their attorneys,” he said. “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to come to an agreement that’s mutually acceptable. ... In terms of the fair, the fair’s in really good shape.”
The fair is working to recover from a deficit discovered after it was learned the IRS had placed a tax lien on the fairgrounds. The revelation led to the removal of Richards, and new fair president Don Chioffi said the contracts, signed by Richards in November, were canceled because they paid the acts too much money.
Chioffi said several other acts — Rosaire’s racing pigs, a petting zoo and a horse show — renegotiated their fees and will appear at the fair, which runs for 10 days in late August and early September.