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Fall Fest May Not Happen In 2014; City Leaders Disagree On Size, Committee

Posted On April 22, 2014

By Mike Perleberg

Lawrenceburg Fall Fest Photo by A.J. Waltz

Lawrenceburg Fall Fest
Photo by A.J. Waltz

(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Lawrenceburg Fall Fest is in danger of not happening in 2014 as City Council and Mayor Dennis Carr are in disagreement on certain aspects of the festival.

Four members of council declined to approve claims for Fall Fest on Monday, essentially defunding the festival. The city’s 2014 budget had appropriated $350,000 for Fall Fest.

“Fall Fest is done,” Carr said following a discussion among council.

The reasons for the opposition varied among council. Two councilmen, Mike Lawrence and Bill-Bill Bruner, voiced concerns that the festival has become bigger than intended or is good for the city.

“In my own opinion, for the following funds, I assume it should stop because I don’t feel it is a big event for our locals as it is for out-of-towners,” said councilman Mike Lawrence.

“I would agree with that Mike,” responded fellow councilman Bill-Bill Bruner. “It’s more of a tri-state party.”

Bruner said he felt a large crowd at last year’s Fall Fest – estimated at 50,000 on one night of the three day festival – discouraged many city residents from attending. Organizers had estimated the 2013 festival’s total attendance somewhere around 62,500.

“I would like to have it, but want to see it smaller,” he said.

Following the 2013 festival, Lawrenceburg Fall Fest chairwoman Marie Edwards left the committee. In conflicting accounts, Edwards has maintained she was fired by the mayor while Carr stated that Edwards had quit. Carr soon afterwards appointed his own Fall Fest Committee.

Councilmembers Jane Pope and Aaron Cook agreed that they would not approve any Fall Fest claims until the Fall Fest Committee is returned to Edwards or other volunteers. Pope had also previously volunteered on the committee.

“Just to have the committee ripped apart and told that we were nothing but a bunch of dead weight and taken over by a committee you appointed, I will not approve the claims,” Pope told Carr.

According to the mayor’s office, the current Fall Fest Committee members include Carr, councilman J.R. Holdcraft, Board of Works member Donnie Bryant, chief of police Gene Hunefeld, Jr., fire chief Johnnie Tremain, EMS director Bobby Mills, marketing director Kelly Will, city manager Mario Todd, and Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg representatives Greg Tufts and Tina Bojack.

Will said the committee members are not paid extra for their work on the Fall Fest committee.

The mayor issued a statement Tuesday morning calling the council’s decision very unfortunate.

“Those who will suffer most include the organizations that use their Fall Fest proceeds as their primary funding mechanism such as the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, Boy Scouts, Band Boosters, Eagles, CASA, and other local vendors.  The impact of this decision will be absorbed by our youth and scholarship programs,” Carr said.

If council and the mayor can come to an agreement on the Fall Fest concerns, the festival could still occur in 2014. But, that would likely need to happen soon so that there is time to book entertainment, vendors, and other services. City council’s next regular meeting will be Monday, May 5.

In March, the new Fall Fest Committee had contemplated relocating the festival out of downtown and to the Lawrenceburg Fairgrounds. The committee eventually decided it would remain downtown at Todd-Creech Park.

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