LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - During a report on the Great Texas Balloon Race, the chairman offered a verbal public apology to the Gregg County Commissioners Court for language used by Koe Wetzel during his July performance. This is the second apology offered by the GTBR Board, but the first time it was done verbally.
Great Texas Balloon Race Chairman Rhonda Bullard took the podium at the Gregg County Commissioners Court on Monday morning.
“We’ve come to report on the 2019 Great Texas Balloon Race. We’ve come to offer an apology but also to celebrate many of our successes,” Bullard said.
She said the race hadn’t become what it is by making mistakes, and that it’s a:
“Financially strong entity that has an economic impact of over $1.2 million on Gregg County every year,” Bullard said.
She said the GTBR Board had been asking for feedback about the race and the entertainment.
“For several years that feedback has repeatedly called for entertainment that appeals to a younger audience,” she said.
They decided on Koe Wetzel even though he’s known for using language that isn’t suited for a family audience.
“We took precautions to prevent certain language that is historically part of the entertainer’s performances,” Bullard explained.
She said board members had attended a Wetzel concert and reported he could perform without using foul language.
“But we did not take it far enough by asking for a morality clause,” Bullard said.
“In retrospect, I allowed us to make a decision that is proven to not be in the best interest of GTBR,” Bullard said.
Then Chairman Bullard apologized to the court and attendees of the race.
“I apologize to each of you, to your constituents, and to anyone who was offended. It was not our intention to bring embarrassment to you, our city, our county, and especially not our sponsors and our attendees,” Bullard said.
But Bullard and the board feel it was all started with Wetzels’ introduction.
“The truth is the DJ set the stage for the Koe; set the stage for Koe to ignore our agreement when he began a very inappropriate chant,” Bullard said.
Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt responded to Bullard’s statement.
“Forty-three years is a pretty good track record with no blemishes, and I think something like this you learn from and move on. And so with that I thank you very much for what you all do for Gregg County,” Stoudt said.
Bullard said next year precautions will be made to ensure the integrity of the event is protected. More than 12,000 people attended Wetzel’s performance.
Click here for Bullard’s full statement to commissioners.
PREVIOUS UPDATE (MIDDAY)
LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The chairman of the 2019 Great Texas Balloon Race has apologized again for the language used during Koe Wetzel’s performance last month.
Rhonda Bullard appeared before Gregg County commissioners Monday morning where she gave another public apology.
“I apologize to each of you, your constituents and anyone who was offended. It was not our intention to bring embarrassment to you, our city, our county and especially not our sponsors and our attendees,” said GTBR Chairman Rhonda Bullard. “We take the management of our event very seriously. With this apology we would like to move past this issue. ... We will be adjusting the entertainment booking process to ensure we have vetted performers well.”
Last month, KLTV learned the GTBR board of directors asked Wetzel’s manager to communicate to Wetzel not to use the language he often uses during shows. According to the board, that language was used anyway when he took the stage on Saturday, July 27.
Bullard previously posted the following apology on the GTBR Facebook page: