To the editor:
On June 16, I published a Facebook post detailing how the City of Madisonville and organizers of the Summer Sizzler have colluded for two years to undermine one of the largest events in the tristate, The Dust Bowl has taken place in Madisonville for 38 years and has been organized by nonprofit Light of Chance Inc. since 2009 as a fundraiser for local youth.
The situation consists of local government overreach. Mayor Kevin Cotton is using city resources and tax dollars to fight a personal vendetta against myself and my organization all because I will not conform to his personal agenda.
In February of 2019, the City of Madisonville announced their Friday Night Live summer series would be held Aug. 2. The announcement stated that this concert was in conjunction with the Dust Bowl. It was the first time I’d heard this news. The Friday Night Live concert conflicted with the Dust Bowl’s own annual concert.
In March of 2019, I met with Mayor Cotton. I expressed my concerns about Dust Bowl and the City’s Aug. 2 concert. He stated that the City didn’t have to consult with me and that he wasn’t going to fund the Dust Bowl concert. He wanted our people to attend the City’s concert instead. He attempted to exploit our event for his own gain by making the people think his concert was in conjunction with our event. His actions were dismissive, manipulative, culturally insensitive and have ultimately divided a community.
In May of 2019, I submitted an application to Park Superintendent Jeff Duvall to host the 2020 Dust Bowl July 31 through Aug. 2. My dates were rejected in August of 2019 and given to the Summer Sizzler. Although the City does not have a policy, I was told I had to choose another date for the Dust Bowl because the Summer Sizzler was scheduled to have their event first in 2019 and that July 31-Aug. 2 of 2020 were their corresponding dates.
Their new dates were July 27 through Aug. 2, 2020. I choose Aug. 7-9 2020. Afterwards, I submitted applications for the next five years.
In August 2020, COVID-19 forced the City to cancel the Dust Bowl.
In April, the City gave my 2021 Dust Bowl dates to the Summer Sizzler, again. I confronted Mayor Cotton and Duvall. They claimed they received my application in March 2021 and they received the Summer Sizzler’s application in December 2020, which is inaccurate. The organizers of the Summer Sizzler submitted their application in December 2020. I submitted mine in August 2019 and resubmitted in June 2020. I followed up in March 2021 with a copy of the application. I have receipts showing that those emails were read by the City.
On June 7, I addressed City Council and City Attorney Joe Evans. They knew nothing of the matter. Mayor Cotton and Duvall deflected and dismissed our 2021 Dust Bowl dates, stating misinformation. The City Attorney even stated at the City Council meeting that the weekend should be granted to the entity that applied first. This application was mine.
Light of Chance has grown the Dust Bowl from several hundred attendees to thousands. Not only do spectators come from surrounding communities like Owensboro, Hopkinsville, Henderson, and Evansville, but from as far as Chicago and Houston and everywhere in between.
Right is right and wrong is wrong. I support the Summer Sizzler but not at the expense of the Dust Bowl and the youth it supports.
I’m demanding the City grant the dates I have requested.
Executive Director — Light of Chance