RAVENSWOOD - At City Council's last meeting, the question of giving general funds to the Octoberfest Committee resulted in the item being tabled until further review.
In the Council's Public Forum, Mike Kelly, a member of Octoberfest, asked that council consider giving funds to help with the annual festival. Kelly stated the businesses are no longer able to donate as much, if at all.
Said Kelly, "We're struggling just like everyone else is. Corporate is not donating or they are donating much less than they used to. When we say Ravenswood Octoberfest we are basically not just Octoberfest. We sponsor the parade; the pageants (pre-teen and teen) and the children's pageant. I myself put in hours with the Christmas lights. It was not so much Mayor's Movie in the Park as it was part of Octoberfest. The past Memorial Day celebration took a big hunk out of our funds. Everything we do takes a little more out of our budget."
Kelly further remarked that looking in the papers, one will see Fourth of July festivities, craft shows and apple butter festivals. Kelly added that those types of activities bring people into the town where they will eat and shop, which in turns helps local businesses.
Said the businessman, "We have the most beautiful riverside park. We have friendly people and I want people to see that. Octoberfest is getting smaller. Help us out because it's for Ravenswood, not for us (meaning Octoberfest Committee)."
Councilman Jared Bloxton brought forth an agenda item on the part of the Recreation Commission to approve giving the Octoberfest Committee $10, 000 to offset costs of the event.
Bloxton stated that he believed that Mike Kelly has said everything that needed to be said about the subject.
Council members asked questions about finances. It was reported that the Elimination Dinner made $6,000 in funding for the festival. In addition, the entertainment cost was close to $20,000 just to book the bands and the fireworks were also several thousand dollars.
Mayor Michael Ihle responded, saying, "I don't know that it is a top priority since we have other things that need fixed. Long term, we could use that money for things that need repaired or restored. The grills need replaced. Debbie (Hunt) has handed me an invoice for fixing park swings, and the cargo net that had not been replaced for years."
Other items mentioned were the bathrooms that needed new toilets, stalls and doors. Ihle explained that project alone would, "eat that money up."
Ihle announced his point of view was that he felt conflicted about giving $10,000 towards Octoberfest.
Said the mayor, "It's tough to spend thousands of dollars on something that will only last for one weekend."
Bloxton stated that he did not look at the event as one weekend, but as something that brings people to the town.
Page 2 of 2 - Said Bloxton, "We've been patient and we've been thrifty, and some of us have done things out of our own pockets. I have looked into other towns' recreations and I think they would be shocked to see that our council doesn't pay 50% of the cost. We have the dinner and we are fortunate to have some businesses that donate."
Recorder Kathy Garrett stated that she would like to look at the numbers before committing to an agreement on the amount requested by the Octoberfest Committee.
Councilman Ken Vintorini mentioned the festival sweetens the pot as it should not always be work and no play.
Ihle joked that he liked sweet things and visited Sweet Dreams a little more than he should. He quipped that instead of having one "candy bar" on one weekend, he would rather have candy here and there spread thoroughout the year. He stated that his candy comparison was his approach to the request.
"I would like to see people having things fixed year round," said the mayor, "And not use that money all at one time. I do see residual effects. I'm for voting no, but it seems that council would like to look into this a little further and it's fine with me."