Fall Fest May Not Happen In 2014; City Leaders Disagree On Size, Committee
By Mike Perleberg
(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.
why not end a successful event...that makes perfect sense, if your a politician. Just go back into oblivion Lawrenceburg. Bet the 50000 people didn't spend any money in your town, don't worry you got the bake sales to fall back on
I think everyone involved really needs to read and re-read and maybe read a third time what funconcessions posted. This person nailed it right on the head it could not have been said any better!!!! I am one hundred percent in agreement with every word of this post. What is sad at the end of the day it will be the ego's and the money that prevails over it all, so sad.
As a vendor with a vested interest, I think it is very unfortunate that there can't be a compromise and egos put to the side. The former Fall Fest Committee that was lead by Marie Edwards did an outstanding job. I for one acknowledge and appreciate the endless hours that Marie has put in over the years as well as the countless volunteers that have assisted her in displaying their hometown pride and drawing revenue into Lawrenceburg. This is a task that the "politicians" and other committees have failed to achieve. If it is not broke, don't fix it!! Return the task to the volunteers and Marie. Although it may have become a tri-state party, Lawrenceburg needs those consumers to visit more frequently to help small businesses to succeed so why in the world would you want to make comments to discourage out-of- towners from coming here.
While I understand that safety has become an issue and the event has grown bigger than ever expected, simply scale down the entertainment. You don't need A list entertainment to make an event successful.
The Lions Club does an amazing job every year with Aurora's Farmers Fair and they don't have top country singers. However, they do possess common sense, no egos, and a consistent and primary purpose; a family oriented event that welcomes people of all ages, of all demographic locations and of all economical backgrounds; It is truly a community affair. Come on Lawrenceburg, take a lesson.
I think both sides have validity to their arguments however this is where being an adult and a professional should prevail and compromise and reasonable accommodations should occur. I think the current mayor and council have good intentions; however, the all mighty dollar, personal agendas and egos have clouded what is best for the city and that is true far beyond Fall Fest. The home of an Olympian should not be in the news because they can't all act like adults. I'm not saying this is true of all of the individuals making the calls nonetheless, you are seen as one entity and judged as such.
I grew up in Lawrenceburg and graduated from LHS. I miss the days of the small town feel. Please remember at the end of the day money doesn't matter but how we treat each other does. Did we act like this before the casino and all of its millions came to town; I think not!!
There are plenty of options for me to choose from as a vendor. However, I choose Lawrenceburg for that weekend because of the people and my prideful ties to the town. I hope these concerns can be resolved and the mayor and the council can see to it that this event takes place. Good luck to all of those in control and I hope to see everyone at Fall Fest this year!! God bless :)
It's not complicated when the "rainy day fund" has millions stashed away. "Think small" expect small.. You have the bench warmers in charge and they haven't a clue.
The convention center was needed 15 years ago. As casino revenues fade, and out of towners go elsewhere, who will want to have a convention in a town with no good bars or food joints? It's the white elephant council and the mayor will lay claim to as their legacy.
This is a complicated situation and as much as I have enjoyed Fall fest over the years I'm not sure its the right call for the city to be spending tax payer money in this fashion as the pot begins to dry up. When the city has a surplus in the budget I think this can be an appropriate expenditure. As we come closer to a break even or budget deficit then it becomes inappropriate. I would rather have the 12 million or whatever we spent on a jail back and then we wouldn't be having this discussion.
For clarification purposes: As the press release from the Mayor's office stated; it was a 2-3 division among Council members whether they would approve claims. 3 members declined to approve claims, while Council members Bill-Bill Bruner and J.R. Holdcraft agreed to approve payment of claims.
I've been saying all along that lburg is messed up....and this proves it. Backwards...backwards city. Please don't come to our festivities if you live out of town, your money is no good and there will be too many people, but by the looks of things, your local money is no good either which is why everything goes out of business. Congrats on the cry babies you elected to run the town.
I live in Cincinnati, but yes come to Fall Fest... Just like I know plenty of people from your city that come to the festivals in my neighborhood (west fest and harvest home fair). Unlike Lawrenceburg though, we welcome others, and know it helps out the community... Common sense would tell you that!
I am so glad the people running the city of Lawrenceburg don't run the city of Cincinnati! Can you imagine such myopic leadership...."gotta cancel the Bengals game, it has gotten too big"......So 50,000 people come into your town and spend their money with your merchants and you don't think it is good for the city. Yep....myopic! I know you city leaders won't know what that means, so have someone smart show you how to look it up in a dictionary. This town needs leadership in a bad way. Politicians....wow.
Let me see..The Aurora festival is "open" to all no matter where it is you may live as well is the Versailles Pumpkin Show, the one held in Rising Sun, so by what I'm reading if you DO NOT live in Lawrenceburg you're not invited to attend?? What about people that live in Greendale are we allowed to go? Never saw a festival like this that was "closed" to outsiders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seems like council wants "out of towners" to come to Hollywood to spend their cash but NOT enjoy Fallfest.. I think they should reconsider their idiotic position. Get over the fact that Buckeyes and Bluegrassers enjoy our little town. Isn't the party for all?
I would be one of the "tri-state party" people. I grew up in Lawrenceburg but now live in Ohio. I liked going to each year's Fall Fest to catch up with my friends and neighbors.
LHS class of 1976 alum
You hit the nail on the head about the ego's clashing in L`burg. I think the real issue here is the possible move of Fallfest to the fairgrounds. If downtown vendors are unwilling to stay open during Fallfest, why have it in town? I agree with moving it to the fairgrounds for parking and security issues. But since council doesn't really care what others think, my voice doesn't matter.
@smartjw YES! Given the golden goose of Argosy/Hollywood all those years ago, the leadership in the town could have turned Lawrenceburg into a "destination" just like Newport or now the Banks. But wasted opportunity because the "Good 'ol Boys" can't think progressive enough, and were only concerned with their personal politics. Only now....many years late are they finally building a convention center that will allow them to host concerts and events. But of course, all the other buildings around the convention center will only be filled by merchants with local/relative/classmate connections, heaven forbid any new person come in with a business plan that might be successful.
You can not blame everyone! Unfortunately it is the pull you have in a small town and proves they are not always good for it. Like I say revamp all doards, council, and so on....It needs to be ran like a business not a circus. They created the monster so they need to deal with containing it...lol good luck with that.
I agree I am from Cincinnati but own my home in Greendale for over five years now and always have attended the festivals in Cincy as well as here in Lawrenceburg. I always thought these events were to bring people together to have a good time. Never have I heard of any town complaining about out of towners attending. As a matter of fact the town of "Lawrenceburg" is suppose to be building it up to attract out of towners for the community. If you think this is bad, Greendale residents DO NOT GET TO REEP ANY BENEFITS THAT LAWRENCEBURG PROVIDES. Example: When I bought my house in Greendale, my deed papers state my address as Lawrenceburg. When the casino built the new pool in Lawrenceburg and said any Lawrenceburg resident gets in for free, well they lied.
My kids went to pool and they would not let them in for free, rudely told them there was no such street in Lawrenceburg. I live exactly 3 miles from the pool and pay the same taxes if not more than people with a "Lawrenceburg address". So if anyone can explain why I have a Lawrenceburg address on my deed, but am told I do not get the benefits "Lawrenceburg residents" have I would love to hear it!!!!!!!!!!
@bigredmachine12 The thing is they are not spending the money with the local merchants as most of them are closed due to the Festival.
Isn't it funny Greendale residents get screwed out of all the benefits that Lawrenceburg offers. I live in Greendale but when I bought my house on deed it states Lawrenceburg,IN and we pay same if not more in taxes.
Although I agree about the size and safety concerns, I am not sure I agree with moving it. Yes, the fairgrounds would resolve several issues in that area but I think it would demolish the original intentions of Fall Fest. Unless my recollection is wrong, which is possible, the original idea was to have an event to celebrate the city and bring people into the city. Moving the event to the fairgrounds would not fulfill that thought. There has to be a solution that would satisfy all those involved.
I'm sure at times and by the reputation that has been acquired, some comments by the mayor and council may be taken out of context. I don't know but what I do know is it is a shame that money has changed some very good people. I continue to believe that those in charge are good people, they are just making some poor decisions based on what I consider to be power trips. It is easy to judge from the outside though and I am not up against the challenges they face daily as leaders of the city. With that said however, and having had a long career in management, I would have to believe that I would handle some of these situations differently. More importantly, when you start acting like you are better than the people you are leading and representing, negative results are sure to present.
Some of us think about the big picture not the personal differences. That is what it boils down to in the burg. Funny how that works huh.....