Therefore, the decision has been made to spread the biggest draws of
the festival across four weekends, one per month in June, July,
August and September next year.
Saturday evening Hake and city of Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder
announced what the festival will look like in 2015.
On the weekend of June 5th through 7th, the Up in Smoke Barbecue
will take place. The event will be grouped with the Oasis Craft and
Flea Market and the Railsplitter Antique Auto Club car show. Added
to the event will be a downtown beer tent and live jazz music.
The Fine Art Fair and the Art of Wine & Brew will take place on the
weekend of July 18 and 19. It will be grouped with the 7th Annual
Family Fun Day hosted by the Open Arms Christian Fellowship Church.
New to the event that weekend will be live Jazz music in the
The Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival will become the Lincoln Balloon
Festival. It will be held the same weekend as it has been in the
past, August 28th and 29th. All the activities of the balloon
festival will take place at the Logan County Airport. The festival
will include the giant kites of the Wisconsin Kiters, who have been
coming for the past few years. There are also plans to expand
activities at the airport between flights. Among those plans, more
family games and activities, more live music, and of course food.
In September of 2015, the National Railsplitting Festival will be
held on the 18th through the 20th, primarily at the Logan County
Fairgrounds. The Postville Courthouse 1800ís Craft Fair will be
added to that weekend event, with hopes of adding other events at
Postville Park as well.
Hake and Snyder shared these plans with the public and press from
the wine tent in downtown Lincoln on Saturday afternoon. Hake spoke
briefly about why this decision has been made. Recalling
conversations with downtown merchants, and results of surveys, she
said the festival in its current state has become too big, and
instead of helping increase local revenues, it is actually hurting
the downtown businesses.
She cited the pitfalls of having so many activities going on in one
weekend. Among them she said it was difficult for retailers and
other area businesses to do target market advertising when there
were too many targets. She noted that businesses need to reach
specific customers through target marketing, but when you have the
barbecue, art, balloons, wine and mirco breweries, flea markets, car
shows, and historic events all going on at once, choosing the target
becomes a big challenge.
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In addition, Hake said, visitors to the community
donít always leave happy, because they felt divided in what they
could see and do. Those who wanted to go to the ballooning events
were forced to miss some of the barbecue events and vice versa. She
said many of the chamber surveys came back with comments that people
had tried too hard to see everything offered, and had still not been
She finally noted, that as the festival grows in offerings each
year, the need for volunteers grows. She told the crowd that this
year, attendance numbers had been down, probably due to the weather.
But, she said, that may have been a blessing. Hake went on to say
this year; they came up about 200 volunteers short of having all
She also noted that the growth of the festival has
put a strain on local safety professionals. She said the Lincoln
Police Department, EMA, and other safety organizations were
stretched to the limit and beyond on being able to provide security
around the various event locations. She also noted this year, some
very important night time security details had to be dropped because
the local law officials didnít have the manpower to have people out
at all the various locations.
Spreading the festival components across four weekends in four
separate months will help solve many, if not all of these issues,
Furthermore, it is hoped that each component will take off and grow
again, bringing more and more visitors to Lincoln and Logan County.
The goal of the chamber is to help grow area businesses and
encourage new business to come into Logan County. Hake said her
awakening came last year when she was told that so many people were
in Lincoln on the festival weekend that the stores, while crowded
with visitors, were not selling anything. She said it was shocking
to hear, but she made a point of trying to shop last year during the
festival and soon realized just how uncomfortable and difficult it
was to do so. She is hopeful that making these changes in 2015 will
provide for more tourist activity in Logan County, and will bring
more business to local retailers.
[By NILA SMITH]