Bankruptcy trustee for Decatur Celebration looking at ‘malfeasance’ claims | Crime and Courts

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DECATUR — The lawyer working to wind up the affairs of the bankrupt Decatur Celebration tells creditors he is looking into complaints of “potential malfeasance” by former officers of the annual street festival.

Bankruptcy trustee Jeffrey D. Richardson, in a court filing dated Nov. 1, makes no mention of any specific people or any specific accusations of wrongdoing.

Writing what Richardson describes as his first annual report, he says: “There are some issues and I have received complaints of potential malfeasance by former officers which I will investigate to the best of my ability given the limited resources that are likely in this case.”

Richardson also notes that Celebration ceased operations in 2019 after a more than 30-year run. The event’s board of directors had blamed its demise on problems caused by the onset of COVID-19 which led to the cancellation of the 2020 event and its eventual total collapse.

In this 2014 file photo, Chloe Smith has fun making bubbles in the Kid’s Block of the Decatur Celebration.

Lisa Morrison

But Richardson, painstakingly picking his way through Celebration’s records and affairs, believes it was in financial trouble before the onset of the virus. “It appears the problem with the street festival predated COVID, although the last street festival was in 2019,” he adds, without elaborating.

An attempt Sunday to reach Claudette Davis, the last president of the Decatur Celebration board of directors, was not successful.

Creditors of Decatur Celebration told to get their claims filed by Dec. 1

Davis, in a previous telephone hearing with Richardson, had said the end had come quickly for the organization with an abrupt cutoff in recordkeeping and paperwork after staff layoffs.

“And the reason for that was because our staff, our full-time staff, would have been operating and managing the day-to-day operations but, after the pandemic hit, we had to release them, we had to lay them off,” she had told the bankruptcy trustee.

The last time Celebration filed taxes was in 2019 for the 2018 fiscal year, Davis had said.


In this 2014 file photo, Xavier Dereak and his sister are among those riding in the Razzle Dazzle Goodtimes Parade during the Decatur Celebration to promote the Macon County Strides for Down Syndrome event.

The Celebration had initially listed its assets at just under $14,500 but said its debts totaled more than $81,000. Richardson said he is still digging through what might be sold to repay the organization’s dozens of creditors, but his report to creditors said there isn’t much of value left.

“The assets to be recovered are not significant and likely will not exceed the $10,000 to $20,000 range unless recoveries are made from the nontangible assets,” he said.

1998 – Rick Springfield

An already impressive event, Decatur Celebration became known nationally when VH-1 came to film Rick Springfield’s performance. It remains one of Celebration’s most well-attended shows, and clips were seen multiple times on an episode of “Behind the Music.”

One previously listed “nontangible” asset had been trying to get back a $6,700 deposit paid to an act booked for the 2020 show — which would have been its 35th anniversary event — before that was canceled.

One success the trustee has had, however, is an agreement with the city of Decatur which agreed to buy 23 power panels and associated electrical cables for $6,000. That deal was worked out with Chris Brodnicki, general manager of the Decatur Civic Center.

Other remaining assets of the Celebration include festival ticket booths, festival staging, kitchen appliances and a forklift truck previously donated by Caterpillar Inc.

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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