FOREST CITY | One of the founders of the Tree Town Music Festival, who's had several lawsuits filed against him -- including one by the company now managing the Forest City event -- has filed for bankruptcy.
Gary DeWaard of Forest City stated he has liability of $8 million and assets totaling $281,144 in the Chapter 7 petition he filed last month in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Iowa.
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The liability is primarily related to his producing and promoting concerts and music festivals around the country with his company, the Basis Group.
DeWaard's bankruptcy petition states Basis is not believed to have equity beyond its debts.
The assets DeWaard listed on the petition do not include the Funky Monkey Gymnastics and Tumbling Club.
The petition states his wife, Sandra DeWaard, who is listed as a non-filing spouse, owns the business, which opened in 2017.
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a trustee gathers and sells the debtor's nonexempt assets and uses the proceeds to pay creditors, with secured debts receiving first priority.
DeWaard's petition states $189,211 of his assets are nonexempt, and $184,034 of his liabilities are secured by property, which means the liquidation of his nonexempt assets will not be enough to pay his unsecured debts.
Those unsecured debts include money he owes to lending institutions and credit card companies.
The two largest individual unsecured debts were incurred in 2017 -- $2.9 million to Passline of Minneapolis and $2.5 million to Barker Financial of Iowa City. Both debts are for personal guarantees regarding Basis.
Gary DeWaard and his father, David DeWaard, were among those who started Tree Town, a country music festival that has brought stars such as Keith Urban and Tim McGraw to perform in Forest City every Memorial Day weekend since 2014.
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The father and son also founded the Basis Group to provide event coordination, project management and marketing services for music events.
In January 2018, Gary DeWaard said Basis would no longer be involved in Tree Town.
Premier Global Productions, a Nashville company that provides production services and equipment for outdoor music festivals, took over management of Tree Town.
Basis began working with PGP in 2017 on concerts in Pennsylvania and Colorado.
In August 2018, PGP filed a $1.7 million lawsuit alleging Basis conspired to defraud the Nashville company by not paying for thousands of dollars in services for those concerts.
Basis filed a counterclaim in September 2018, alleging PGP wrongfully took control of collateral Basis offered to get PGP to provide services for the Happy Valley Jam at Penn State University.
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That collateral was Basis' membership interest in FC Festivals, the group operating Tree Town -- as well as loans FC Festivals allegedly owed Basis, according to the counterclaim.
A jury trial in the case was scheduled for Oct. 22 of this year, but proceedings have been stayed due to Gary DeWaard filing for bankruptcy.
In another lawsuit filed last year, the Runaway Country Music Festival in Florida claimed Gary DeWaard, his father and their company stole $275,000 in revenue from online ticket sales.
The defendants filed an answer to the suit denying the claims.
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Gary DeWaard's bankruptcy petition states he began working as an independent contractor managing real estate for Iowa City-based Swanson Productions, LLC, on Jan. 1.