Founders Day is not moving from the city park anytime soon.
The Union Parks Advisory board recently supported a plan to keep the annual event at the same location.
Parks and Recreation Director Angela Lairmore told the board the 2019 event went well, but she had heard from several people a desire to move the event away from the city. City Administrator Russell Rost said has moved around in its 40 years. It has switched back and forth between the square and the park, but has been at the park for the last several years.
Lairmore said attendance the last four years or so hasn’t been “great.” She said the event still hasn’t lost money, but she’s been looking at something to increase attendance.
People have suggested moving the event back to the Franklin County Courthouse square, Lairmore said. This year the Franklin County Bicentennial celebrated with an event on the square the day after Founders Day.
To hold the event on the square, streets would have to be closed. Lairmore said there’s also a power issue — there are more electrical outlets at the park than on the square.
Rost said he wasn’t sure a move would draw a bigger crowd — but it might look like it. He said he’s heard from people who like the event where it is at the spacious city park.
Rost said one of the issues with the uptown location was a limited space for people and events. Another issue was that it was always hot and the square doesn’t offer much in terms of shade.
If rain came, Rost said the event would be a total washout. Now people can wait out the storm in the pavilion.
Other park board members pointed out other advantages of the park. For one, it’s closer to the city pool. Another board member pointed out the park offers a place for kids to roam and play while waiting for events.
Moving uptown would allow for more “drop-ins.” Board member David Pope said he figured more people would drive by the square and see the event, but he wasn’t sure that was worth the move.
Lairmore said Union police have reported the park is much easier to manage.
Pope and other board members said people’s desire to move uptown was likely rooted in nostalgia for past events. To hook into that, Scott Piontek suggested bringing back older events.
For example, Piontek said kids used to love the barrel rides. He said if that was reincorporated, it might prompt more people to stay.
Other board members agreed with Piontek and voted to keep the event at the park, but consider adding historical elements to the event.
Lairmore said she’d post on the parks departments social media accounts to solicit information about what events people would like to see return. She said the board would resume the discussion at a future meeting.
Founders Day is traditionally held the first Saturday in June. The day-long celebration features a 5K/10K run, games for kids, washers, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and more.