At the tail end of the meeting, Patrick Doolin spoke about the
plans for the streetscape work that had been scheduled to take place
prior to the festival. The redesign of the downtown area was
supposed to begin early this summer with the reconstruction of the
sidewalk and parking space on the south side of Pulaski Street on
the square. However, weather conditions prevented contractors from
starting in a timely fashion. As late spring and early summer passed
the contractors could not get into the area to start the work.
Doolin said that after much consideration, it was determined that
with the late start date it would not be possible for the project to
be finished before the festival. Therefore, it was decided that the
project should be put on hold until immediately after the festival.
Doolin said when the weather did clear up; the contractors had said
there was a chance they could get the work done, but it was decided
that it was too great a risk. The downtown steering committee met
with the contractors, oversight engineers, Mayor Keith Snyder, and
several downtown business owners, in early July and decided to put
the project on hold.
At the luncheon, Hoagland spoke up saying it had been a good
decision. He said he knew there were those who were anxious to show
off the new design for the downtown area at this year’s festival,
but had it not been finished; it would not have left the desired
impression on out-of-town visitors.
Hake said she had also heard from David Lanterman that a decision
had been made not to start construction on the new Lincoln Grand 8
Theater until after the festival. The original plan had been to
break ground around the first of July. However, that didn’t happen.
Hake said Lanterman decided that it would be better to wait until
after the festival, and she was delighted with that decision.
Hake also began a discussion on the future of the festival by
relaying a conversation she had with Helen Rainforth of Abe’s Carmel
Corn. She said Rainforth had expressed she was quite happy to hear
the festival would be split into parts next year.
For the downtown retailers, the problem with the gigantic festival
is that there are too many people. Hake said she had heard this from
a variety of sources who said the crowds that come in make shopping
in the downtown stores an unpleasant experience. Because of this,
many no longer go in the stores because of the crowds.
She said talking with merchants in past years she had heard this and
was surprised. She said, “When I first heard that I thought ‘you’re
really telling me there are too many people here.’ Last year I made
an asserted effort to walk around downtown on Saturday and see what
was happening, and I wouldn’t shop then either.”
In addition, the
chamber had done an online survey after the festival last year and
received comments from the public that there was too much going on
at one time, and they couldn’t enjoy it all.
Hake said the mission of the festival had always been to bring
people to downtown merchants. With the realization that people were
not shopping the stores on festival weekend, she said it was time to
step back and look at the festival and see what needed to be done in
order to keep with the original mission.
Donna Becke of the Log
Cabin Quilt shop wondered what would happen on a bad weather
weekend. With there being only one event taking place per weekend as
is currently being proposed, bad weather could ruin the entire
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It was pointed out though that whether it be an art show,
flea market or the balloons, bad weather causes problems now as
well, so what would the real difference be? In fact, expanding
the large festival into multiple smaller festivals would
increase the odds of good weather for portions, whereas now if
it rains all weekend it has an affect everywhere.
Hake also talked about the art portion of the festival. The
thought now is to move it into the downtown square. She noted
the festival is down on exhibitors and referred to it as
struggling. However, she noted the 47 vendors signed up for this
year are going look sparse in Latham park, but move those same
47 people to the courthouse square, and it will look like a
Another big struggle for the chamber in doing an all-in-one
festival is the volunteers needed. To put on the festival as it
is today requires more than 600 volunteers filling a variety of
roles. If divided into separate weekends, the base number of
volunteers needed will drop substantially.
Hake said with the balloon festival, the effort would go toward
expanding the offerings at the airport. Vic Martinek said he
felt that would be important. He said as one who has worked at
the gate, people come out to the airport early on Saturday
sometimes. When they find out they are there too early for the
balloons, they sometimes leave because they don’t feel there is
anything there of interest.
When asked how the weekend would divide out, Hake said the
committee involved was still looking at that. In the past the
entire festival has been held the last full weekend before Labor
Day. In general this ranges anywhere from around the 22nd of the
month to the 29th. She said the balloon portion would keep that
The other components have not been determined yet.
Doolin said the goal was to establish a mindset for people of
“Let’s go to Lincoln. There is always something going on there.”
Cox also commented on the mission of the tourism bureau saying
that group had adopted a new logo, “Destination Logan County."
She said in what is being planned for the future that is the
goal, to make the entire county a destination, not just Lincoln.
There will be more information forthcoming about the 2015
schedule. The Logan County Tourism Bureau will host a press
conference on Saturday August 23 on the lawn of the Logan County
The Tourism Bureau, along with other event organizers will
present more details about the expansion of the 2015 event
calendar at that time.
[By NILA SMITH]