Glen Burnie festivals face uncertain future County agency drops sponsorship

June 10, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

The future of two annual festivals in Glen Burnie is iffy, as th county is dropping its management of the Family Fun Fest and the Halloween Safety Party.

The Office of Community Services is shrinking from 11 workers to two, leaving no one to schedule the festival events.

Ruthanne Gary, Community Services administrator, said a business has expressed interest in assuming the operation of the Halloween event for children and that she is looking for a community group or business to take over the June festival.

"If they want it to continue -- the coordination, they would have to pick that up," said Ms. Gary.

The organizational job entails arranging for performers and exhibitors, contests and candy, and assigning volunteers -- something Ms. Gary said her office has down to a science and would pass along to whoever assumed sponsorship of the events.

"We can only provide the services that citizens can afford to pay for. These are fun things. They are not an absolutely necessary service," she said.

The two events, held at the Arundel Center North, draw several thousand people to the downtown area. The county had pumped money into both events until 1991, Ms. Gary said.

In 1990, the Office of Community Services spent more than $7,500 on each.

Other county government offices, such as the police and fire departments, have participated, and area business and community groups also have contributed. Ms. Gary said her office has a list of about 300 volunteers for the events.

The Glen Burnie Improvement Association was asked if it would take over the Halloween event, but association President Muriel Carter said the community group refused because it already has enough to handle.

The association holds a summer fund-raising carnival, allows community organizations to use its building at no charge and, with North Arundel Hospital, it will run a health and safety fair in October.

The two festivals are but the latest events the community has been asked to take on.

Two years ago the county said it could no longer afford to put up the Christmas decorations it owned. The improvement association, the Glen Burnie Volunteer Fire Company and businesses took that on.

The outdoor summer concert series has traditionally been county-sponsored, but in light of budget cuts, the association and the Bank of Glen Burnie are each sponsoring two of the six concerts.

Businessman Gene Floyd speculated that it may be difficult to find a business or organization to take on the June festival because most of the larger organizations and businesses already have their own events, and smaller ones probably can't spare workers for the concentrated time it would take to coordinate the festival.

But he said he hopes someone does step forward.

"That kind of thing has helped, no doubt, to improve the image of Glen Burnie here," Mr. Floyd said.

County Councilman C. Edward Middlebrooks, a Democrat whose district includes Glen Burnie, said that if no organization or business volunteers to coordinate the Family Fun Fest, the county should still try to put it on, pulling employees from various departments if need be.

"I hate to lose that sense of the community. These things are important to the quality of life," he said.

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