BUTTE — Organizers of Evel Knievel Days are ending their ties with the event, saying Chief Executive Matt Vincent and the Knievel family should proceed with the festival as they see fit.
In a letter to Vincent with copies addressed to Butte-Silver Bow commissioners dated Wednesday, Chad Harrington, executive director of Evel Knievel Days, said the volunteer group made the decision Tuesday night.
“Our committee, by no means, wants to hinder or impede the direction that your family would like to go with Evel Knievel Days and the Evel Knievel name,” the letter said.
The event has been embroiled in disputes in recent weeks that already had cast doubt on the direction of the three-day festival in July and whether it can be held this year. Butte-Silver Bow partially subsidizes the event with tax dollars and other public money.
At the same time Kelly Knievel insisted on a new licensing agreement to use his late father’s name in connection with the event. The county demanded that the Evel Days nonprofit group sign a new operating agreement detailing obligations and responsibilities each side brings to the festival.
Knievel, the eldest son of the late daredevil from Butte, left expletive-laced voicemails with Harrington last week threatening to “destroy” him unless he signed the operating agreement with the county and followed other demands.
Vincent is married to Evel Knievel’s daughter, which also makes him Kelly Knievel’s brother-in-law. Vincent has said his request for a new operating agreement with Evel Days is to ensure accountability and stability and similar pacts will be sought with other tax-supported festivals.
Kelly Knievel announced Monday that he and his family are pursuing formation of another nonprofit Montana corporation to lead the event. He also withdrew a request that the county sign a licensing agreement to use the Evel Knievel name.
Efforts by the Standard to reach Chad Harrington or Jim Dick, another member of the organizing committee, for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.