After much debate during the park board meeting Monday, it was announced that the St. Clair Festival will not be happening this year.
The same issues that were mentioned during the July 24 meeting such as insurance requirements for certain activities and costs were discussed again Monday.
Along with event organizers Mark Bay and Julie Dickinson, Lori Gratzer attended this meeting.
The main reason for not having the festival this year is due to costs to use park facilities, electricity that will be used by vendors and the cost for police officers to patrol the area, which comes to a total of $2,800, according to Gratzer.
In years past, the St. Clair Festival was sponsored by the local Merchants Committee, an extension of the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce. This year, the festival was to be put on by a new organization called “Impact” with the same event organizers as before.
Since neither the city nor the Chamber is affiliated or partnered with the festival, the new organization would have to pay those fees, according to City Administrator Travis Dierker.
Gratzer asked what can be done moving forward in order for the city to consider partnering with the St. Clair Festival. Dierker said the organization would need to submit a proposal six to eight months in advance with a clear purpose of the organization. It was also mentioned for the city to partner that no alcohol would be allowed at the festival.
Gratzer said the purpose of the festival has remained the same. She said the event started during the recession, and she wanted to put on a free event for residents and help promote local businesses.
“My goal was to create an event and let these businesses be vendors because it was a cheaper way for them to advertise, to market a product, to market a service, whatever the need was,” Gratzer said.
She added some years they had money leftover and some years they broke even.
“It’s never been about the money, it’s been about being able to maintain the event and keep it going for the vendors and for the community that really had embraced it,” Gratzer said.
“I just wondered why on the ninth year, this is the first time that anybody has asked what is it really for.”
Park board member Dana Collins-Messex said it has to do with the festival being under a new organization.
During the last park board meeting Dierker mentioned that there has been a lack of communication between event organizers and city officials in trying to put on a festival for this year. Gratzer clarified by saying communications on the city’s end could have been better with being notified about the fees and changes to the festival process.
On Tuesday, Dierker sent a statement via email to The Missourian regarding the festival.
“I know Mrs. Gratzer felt that we the city of St. Clair should have notified her of the event application form and changes, but it was not even known if the festival would be carrying on, as the Chamber of Commerce informed us they were no longer affiliated with the event,” Dierker said.
“I understand Mrs. Gratzer’s frustrations, as the park board welcomes events for this community they still have to coordinate efforts related to management and consistency with event organizers after a change that came about pertaining to our reviews on matters with our Risk Management carrier to ensure no liabilities or risks.
“We were in intense meetings and discussions over the eclipse and attended a seminar which led to all these changes.”
The St. Clair Festival last year featured more than 15 free children’s games, bounce houses, a zip line, petting zoo, pony rides, live music, a disc jockey, vendor booths, a beer garden, horseshoe tournaments and more.
Last year was the first time the festival was held at Orchard Park. The festival was previously held on Main Street.
In 2015, more than 6,000 people attended, and there were 4,000 attendees in 2014.