An impromptu press conference was held Tuesday afternoon at Leons Burger Express in Downtown Mount Airy to call for fairness in regards to a Budbreak Wine Festival controversy in connection with a fundraiser at the festival.
Vickie Riekehof was called out as the winner of the raffle for a 2013 limited edition Fiat Abarth, or that is what she thought. After arriving to claim the car, she said David Chaloupka, who said he is the owner of Amadour Winery and Vineyards that ran the raffle, told her that she had to toss a Frisbee into the car’s open window from a point estimated to be about 90 feet away.
She and fellow ticket buyers at the diner Jody Crawford and Jess Vaughn claimed on Tuesday there was no such rule posted for the contest when they purchased their $100 raffle tickets. Riekehof said she purchased the ticket after she was told only 20 tickets had been sold. She said she was so excited when she was told her name had been drawn she ran to the festival stage. Shortly afterward she said she was told about the Frisbee toss for the first time.
“I wouldn’t have bought the ticket if I’d known it was a chance to get a chance for $100,” explained Riekehof, who said she had spoken with her lawyer and was told a legal proceeding could be costly taking perhaps years to settle and then might not end in her receiving the car.
“I was definitely scammed. My purpose here is to stop this happening somewhere else,” added Riekehof. “Everybody who bought a ticket should get their money back. I know I will never get to see the car. I felt so elated and then you don’t get it (the car). It’s a terrible thing. We’re a small town and a lot of raffles are held. This is not the first $100 I’ve given for a raffle. It has shaken my confidence. I want answers and an apology in writing from Mr. Meineke.”
She was speaking of Bob Meineke who is an organizer of the festival and member of the Mount Airy Rotary Club. He said Saturday after the disagreement over the raffle came about that it was his understanding the instructions would be printed on the ticket and on the literature about the event.
“There was a misunderstanding. We refunded her money and apologized,” Meineke said Saturday. “It was a he said she said thing. My understanding was that verbal instructions were given to each person who purchased a ticket from the salesperson.” He said that person was Chaloupka.
In a joint statement released by the Rotary Club, along with the Downtown Business Association, released a joint statement on Tuesday in which the groups again pointed the finger at Chaloupka.
“The Mount Airy Rotary Club and the Downtown Business Association deeply regret the events that occurred regarding the car raffle conducted by a private vendor at the Budbreak Wine Festival,” the groups said in the written statement. “Prior to, and during the festival, the organizing committee was advised of the drawing. At no time, were any committee members advised of any restrictions on the drawing, and the vendor assured the members when asked directly that the vehicle would in fact be given away.
“Had there been prior knowledge of the format of the contest, it would not have been allowed to take place in the manner that it was conducted. After additional inquiry, we believe that none of the committee members or sponsoring organizations had prior knowledge of the restrictions that were placed on the contest the day of the event.
“In addition, the sponsors and the organizing committee wish to emphasize that they did not organize, sponsor, promote or receive any portion of the income generated from the raffle in question. Further questions regarding the contest should be directed to David Chaloupka of Amadour Winery and Vineyard, the contest sponsor.”
Chaloupka did not return a telephone message left for him Saturday night after the raffle. In a brief telephone interview Tuesday Chaloupka said the purpose of the event was to do something for the community and he said an article in Sunday’s Mount Airy News about the controversy was “rude and not politically correct.” He said the whole side of the story was not told in that article, then he declined to make additional statements, staying he would not talk until receiving advice from an attorney.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.