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Pizza Festival Says It Will Refund Angry Ticket Buyers [Update]

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Organizers say they meant to throw a real event

New York Pizza Festival
Slices from the New York Pizza Festival

A pizza festival that enraged attendees who found little actual pie at the event says it will now refund everybody who purchased a ticket.

The organizers of New York City Pizza Festival posted an update on Facebook saying that they will refund all the tickets, which cost as much as $75. The statement, first spotted by Gothamist, also says the team is working with Eventbrite on how to issue the refunds.

“As event producers, we take full responsibility for the outcome of the experience,” the note from Ishmael Osekre and the Pizza/BurgerFest Team says.

Many people purchased tickets for the festival on Saturday, which was pitched as an event with lots of pizza. A separate event called a burger festival was supposed to take place at the same time, at the same location. An August 30th email from the organizer forwarded to Eater shows that they were combining them because of “everything happening in the country this week.”

But ticket buyers showed up to find a long line and practically no vendors offering pizza, burgers, or beer. One stand dished out small slivers of pie, enraging people who’d driven from as far as D.C. to attend. People have been calling it the Fyre Festival of food, and others say it was a rip off. The state attorney general also opened an inquiry on the situation, and Gothamist found that Osekre also ran an African food festival that was deemed an “epic disaster.”

Still, the organizers’ note insists that they planned to host a real event — saying that hiccups with “supporting partners” and “hardworking pizzerias in Brooklyn” contributed to the fiasco. The event description did not name any vendors.

“We appreciate your belief in our initiative and look forward to better opportunities to serve you in the kind of fun-loving and exciting atmosphere we had anticipated,” the note says.

People do not seem to be buying the apology, though. Many commented that they petitioned their credit card companies for a refund instead, while others maintaining that the whole thing was a scam.

One woman wrote: “If you really believe you guys messed up, you should have been advocating for your customers from the get go acknowledging that there were clearly issues and then go about making it right.”

Update: Gothamist talked to Osekre, who said he will not be pursuing pizza festivals anymore. He again emphasized that he intended to deliver pies throughout the festival, but the pizzerias were “delayed,” though he offered no specifics. Eventbrite also issued a statement saying that all ticket buyers would receive a refund and banned Osekre from ever using the site again.