L’burg Fall Fest Revived, But Some Will Be Charged For Rides, Entertainment
By Mike Perleberg
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Lawrenceburg Fall Fest is going to happen this year after all, but some festival-goers will have to pay to enjoy the entertainment and activities.
Last month, a majority of Lawrenceburg City Council declined to pay claims needed to continue planning the September festival. Some council members had concerns over the size and cost of the festival. Others were displeased that the festival planning committee previously made up of volunteers was changed to mayoral appointments of mostly city employees.
It looked as though Fall Fest would not happen this coming September. The public backlash was heard loud and clear by council and the mayor’s office.
On Monday, city council and Mayor Dennis Carr agreed to compromise on many of the sticking points. Council unanimously voted to give the festival the green light with some changes from years past.
The vote came after some discussion on the cost of Fall Fest compared to the revenue it creates. The city has budgeted $350,000 for this year’s festival.
“Lawrenceburg residents cannot continue to pay for everybody from out of town to have a party,” said councilman Mike Lawrence. “I would like to see the festival downtown. I’m looking at the kids and safety issues.”
In years past, Fall Fest has allowed all attendees to use children’s rides and view concerts for free. That won’t be the case in 2014. Council approved a plan to charge Fall Fest visitors from outside the 47025 zip code to attend concerts or use rides. Ticket fees will be determined by the festival committee.
The 47025 zip extends beyond the city to Greendale, Hidden Valley, and portions of Bright. Residents within the zip code may be able to obtain wrist bands from the city to show their “free” status, although the details of handling that process will have to be worked out.
In order to charge some visitors, the festival needs to become fenced. Carr said the only way to adequately fence in the festival would be to hold it at the Lawrenceburg Fairgrounds, where fencing already exists. Councilwoman Jane Pope insisted that the festival could be fenced downtown so that visitors could be screened for either free or paid admission.
Temporary fencing would be needed to properly section off the festival area. City manager Mario Todd said the festival fencing cost $8,100 last year, when the area was open to access from most any direction.
Presumably, charging admission would result in lower festival attendance by out-of-towners. However, that may not be viewed as a bad thing.
“We need to look at this, because the crowds are getting big and very tight. We’ve put this thing on for years. I’ve been involved for decades,” Carr said. Last year’s festival attracted an estimated 50,000 visitors on one night.
After some discussion council voted unanimously to keep Fall Fest in downtown Lawrenceburg for 2014. Councilman Aaron Cook said he heard from 37 constituents who wanted the festival to remain downtown, as opposed to two who would like to see it relocated to the fairgrounds. The Lawrenceburg Speedway located there has a race scheduled that weekend, Cook pointed out.
Council also agreed to pay all Fall Fest-related claims going forward, preventing any further delays in planning.
“Time is of the essence,” said Kelly Will, city marketing director and Fall Fest committee member.
Will presented the council with a draft proposal stating that all festival committee meetings will be open to the public. The committee will also utilize sub-committees made up of volunteers to organize some aspects of the festival.
Cook had previously voiced displeasure that the volunteer committee known as the I Luv Lawrenceburg Committee was removed from festival planning by Carr.
Some members of council also voiced support for the idea of going way from big-name music acts and instead allowing local bands to be the featured entertainment. No definitive plans have been announced in that regard for the 2014 festival.
“At the end of the day, you’re never going to make it perfect for everybody,” said Lawrence.
“I agree,” Carr responded.