I’ve attended Apple Chill and Festifall since their inception.
In years past it was a local affair – local folk displaying local crafts to other local folk.
That’s not the case anymore. I spent 3 hours on a beautiful afternoon walking around Downtown looking at the motorcycles, listening to a bit of music, eating at a local restaurant (foregoing the funnel cakes), buying a couple of $5 lemonades for the kids and tossing $10 away on the inflated attractions.
Other than running into a few ‘blogging-folk (Mark,BrianR,Ruby,Paul), getting a chance to talk to a number of local activists (Jack, JanetK) and visits to a few community organization booths (Community Independent School), it just wasn’t that interesting or fun.
Yes, there were a few more local shops open this year but, based on my informal survey, the vast majority of street vendors continue to be from out-of-town (heck, out-of-county). The same for visitors.
As I sit here, 11:15pm on a Sunday night, listening to the continued reverberating echoes of sirens on MLK Blvd. – sirens going on since late this afternoon – with the news of two separate shooting events (2 folks down @ 9:30pm, another just discovered in a parked car), reports of numerous violations and arrests, I realize I’m probably hearing the beginning of the end of these town festivals.
Last year I suggested we rethink the festivals in light of the minimal local participation, the financial outlays (a dedicated festival planner – $100/150K of police, fire and public services costs per event) and the concerns of some of Franklin St. business owners.
Tonight, I’ll join with Lex and the rest of the West End Group in calling for an immediate re-evaluation of these festivals.
If we can return them to their roots, maybe amp up the cultural and community outreach and reduce both the size and cost, then I can see their continued value.
As of now, we cannot continue “business as usual”.