BROOKSVILLE — A proposed mud racing and watermelon-seed-spitting Independence Day event with fireworks at the Hernando County Fairgrounds was canceled Friday when the event sponsor, Peter Michael "Mike" Barbee, informed fair officials he couldn't get insurance.
Barbee has been promoting development of a mud-bogging venue and a reality TV show about what it would take to make it happen for over a year. Friday afternoon, he posted on his Mud on the Barbee Facebook page: "Just found out we are uninsurable for this type of event. I hate to say it but this event is canceled.''
In an earlier post Friday, Barbee urged those who planned to attend the event to contact him.
He said he was concerned the event "may not be a wise move financially.'' He went on to note that similar events elsewhere have been canceled because of insurance costs. Insurance companies, he wrote, "seem to think a few thousand rednecks drinking beer, and camping out for 3 days and driving 4 wheel drives are a huge risk.''
Sandra Nicholson, spokeswoman for the Hernando County Fair Association, confirmed the cancellation.
Nicholson said Barbee also had not put down a required deposit to use the fairgrounds. In addition, she had told him the poster tacked onto the fairgrounds sign on U.S. 41 had incorrect information. It said fireworks would be on July Fourth, but those were tentatively scheduled for July 5.
"We wasted all this time and money and had to deal with people like this,'' Nicholson said.
On Thursday, the owner of the property on U.S. 98 north of Brooksville — where Barbee first started developing a mud-bogging venue without seeking required county permission — reached a settlement on four citations issued over the construction. In a stipulated agreement with a special master, property owner Thomas Malouf was assessed $500 in administrative and court costs and agreed to take the required legal steps to make the partially built mud bog into a cattle pond and the partially constructed stage into a pole barn.