Illinois fairgrounds denies permit for R. Kelly show, citing security and protests

Posted at 2:35 PM, Jan 13, 2019

R. Kelly won't be bringing any bump and grind to the Illinois State Fairgrounds in April after the state denied a permit application for an event to be hosted by the singer.

The original flier for the Springfield Spring Break Jam said Kelly was hosting the April 6 event, which would feature performances by rapper Yella Beezy and singers Young Lloyd and Dre Madison.

The flier prominently featured Kelly wearing a gold crown and smoking a cigar. Tickets started at $75.

It appears the fiesta will still go on -- just without Kelly.

"That application was under review until Thursday, at which point Illinois Dept. of Agriculture (IDOA) staff contacted the organizer to let them know their application would not be approved," said Denise Albert, the department's spokeswoman. "Unfortunately, we cannot control when organizers start promoting an event -- there was never a signed agreement to host the event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, only an application."

The fact that Kelly is the subject of intensified criticism following the docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly" played into the Department of Agriculture's decision, Albert said.

"The criteria they didn't meet is security concerns based on recent protests," she said.

In total, the statement said, organizers failed to satisfy three of the department's 13 criteria for granting privileges or contracts to prospective lessees.

They are:

  1. "The security of both the physical premises and persons upon the premises of the State Fairgrounds;"
  2. "Reasonably foreseeable problems with security caused by either the nature of the usage or the identity of the proposed lessee or his/her patrons;"
  3. and "The welfare of the general community."

An updated advertisement for the show says it will be held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds' Exposition Building, located in the state capital. Yella Beezy is the only artist mentioned. Tickets start at $25. The new event is listed on the fairgrounds' online marquee.

A call to a man who the Illinois State Fairgrounds identifies as "Thomas" of Springfield-based Kity Promotions -- listed as the organizer for the canceled event as well as the new event -- was promptly disconnected Sunday after a reporter identified himself.

A subsequent call went to voicemail. A voicemail message was not immediately returned.

For years, the singer has faced allegations of sexual misconduct, including child pornography, giving women sexually transmitted diseases and having relationships with underage girls, but Kelly has never been convicted on the charges.

The three-night Lifetime series, "Surviving R. Kelly," which aired earlier this month, put many of these accusations back in the spotlight. The series revisits the allegations via interviews with Kelly's accusers, witnesses and those close to the singer.

Through his attorney, Steve Greenberg, Kelly denied the accusations against him, with Greenberg telling CNN his client "has done nothing wrong."

"Someone with an agenda has done a hit piece," Greenberg said. "(Kelly's) out in public. He's not hiding. There's no secret compound with sex slaves."

Despite the singer's claim of innocence, the Lifetime series has spurred protests, including one last week in front of Kelly's Chicago music studio, where demonstrators changed "Save our girls!" and "Mute R. Kelly!"

The series also appears to have renewed prosecutors' interest in the allegations, with the Cook County, Illinois, state's attorney urging alleged victims to come forward and the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney saying his office is investigating the singer.