Sunday, August 7, 2016

Not A Festive Festival

The only constant in life is change.

And sometimes, things you love change.  And not always in a good way.

For many years, Binghamton, New York (where I work) has had an annual festival called the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally.  I don't go every year, but when you are able to see a balloon launch, it's a fantastic experience (I'll blog more about that tomorrow.)

I didn't go last year because of previous commitments, at a time when various changes were being made to the festival.  It was now being run by a different organization (it used to be run by a charity).  I didn't know if I would go this year.  But, Friday, due to the generosity of a local credit union, there was free admission to all venues but a nighttime concert (Rick Springfield, of "Jessie's Girl" fame).

We used to live in that neighborhood, so knew where to park.  Our walk (about 10 minutes) ended with a walk across a bridge over the Chenango River.  It looked so peaceful.

After passing through  a security checkpoint, we were immediately greeted by people who looked to be in their 20's, handing us tickets and directing us to tablets that were set up in several groups.

My spouse obediently headed for a tablet.  I, on the other hand, looked at the ticket.  It had a Reward Code, and, on the back, the name of the company giving them out.  It was a travel company "licensed and bonded" in Florida.

Alarm bells went off.  I pulled my spouse away.  At first, he resisted me but I succeeded in pulling him away.

"Weren't they part of security?" he asked, wondering if we had done something wrong by bypassing the tablets and the helpful people ready to help us redeem these tickets.  (I have to disclose here that my spouse, as much as I love him, doesn't engage much in the Internet or social media.  In fact, he does not know how to send an email, or text.)

I also need to mention that some 20% of the population of our county, Broome County, in upstate New York, is over 65.
Security Poster at Spiedie Fest, 2016
"The security check point was right at the beginning, where they were pulling people with backpacks to one side, and letting us go", I said.  "Those people were wearing "Security" T shirts.  The people who gave us these tickets weren't.  And what is this code?  What would we be signing up for?"

I was not that happy, and the more I thought about it, the more upset I got. 

I am not giving the name of the company, but when we got home I googled them, both on the Better Business Bureau website and on Yelp.  It would appear this company sells discount vacations where you are expected to listen to timeshare presentations. 

Whoever they were, they weren't Broome County security.

How many people signed up on those tablets for...what?

This used to be a family friendly event.
It used to be a fun day.
Now, is it just a place to avoid scams?

I wonder.


  1. It probably wasn't a scam. My mother was given one of those vacations to Orlando, and I went with her. We DID have to spend a couple of hours hearing what a great deal the condo was, but we didn't buy one and we still got to stay in one for free for two nights. Not too high a price to pay, if you have the stamina to keep saying, "No, thank you."

    1. That's a relief, although I wonder how many people didn't realize exactly what they were signing up for.

  2. Oh, that's too bad! So did you get to go see the balloons at all?

    I have a friend who signed up for what was supposedly a drawing at an event we went to - a while later she called me, thrilled, to tell me that she'd won free airfare with only a few little requirements. As she started going through those requirements, the same alarm bells went off - I went and did some research after that and sent her what I found out, which was that although it wasn't quiiiiite a scam, it was definitely dressed up to make it sound much better than what it actually was (standard time share pitch). I felt like a scrooge but after she looked it over I think she decided not to go any further with it.

    1. The balloon launches for Friday and Saturday were cancelled due to weather (they are very conservative here - if too much wind or storms in the area - cancelled.) I think the two launches today did get off. I didn't see either. Ah well, perhaps next year.

  3. Most of the things are business minded these days, advertising and marketing. I hope they were not into coaxing people to go for the vacation to listen to their presentations.
    I would like to attend a balloon launch some day.

  4. These days it's so hard to trust anyone or anything. Even if there is a chance for it to not be a scam, experience and better judgement says to beware. And I know how that kills the joy from an event.

  5. I am sorry your turned out so bad. We had a balloon festival in my area this past weekend. It was nothing like that.

  6. Seems like many events have those sorts of things. The local county fair did. It is a scam of a sort--they're trying to sell you something. You just have to be wary nowadays.

  7. It's sad how business has taken over the little joy that makes family time precious. It sure takes the joy away.

  8. So many scams and unscrupulous people around, especially to take advantage of a large crowd like this. Sad, too, that we have to be so worried about security these days. We have our local annual balloon festival this weekend and now I wonder what we may experience!


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