Savage Fest's money woes to be aired

September 20, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

Savage Community Association members plan to meet tonight to discuss ways to bolster the foundering Savage Fest, which lost $1,000 this year, in part because ridership on the carousel was lower than usual.

The 7:30 p.m. meeting at Carroll Baldwin Memorial Hall will focus on ways to attract more business sponsors, increase publicity and draw more volunteers.

The association also wants to find rides other than the carousel that has been used for years.

"We're trying to get a lot of new ideas," said Bill Waff, president of the Savage Community Association. "If we don't get new help coming out and supporting . . . we might seriously consider giving it a rest for a year or two."

The annual festival, held the first weekend in June, was begun five years ago to bring back the old community celebration known as Savage Days. That event had been held on and off since the 1920s.

Savage resident Corrine Arnold started the Savage Fest with $25 and a roll of stamps, soliciting sponsors, volunteers and crafts people. The two-day festival drew 10,000 people its first year. The festival includes arts and crafts, the carousel, a parade and a car show.

"It's been really neat," Ms. Arnold said. "I'd hate to see it stop. But if there's not enough support, then it probably won't happen. It's really too much for one or two people to do."

The event usually attracts more than 5,000 people, sometimes as many as 8,000 to 10,000.

"Everybody who has moved away comes home," said Warren Williams, vice president of the community association and one of the planners of Savage Fest. "It means a great deal to the community."

Mr. Waff said the carousel was the single biggest expense at the festival, costing about $4,500 plus $300 to $400 for a power generator for the two-day event.

In the past, some of that cost was subsidized by the developer of Freestate, a former harness racing track that is being developed into a shopping center near Savage. But Sanford Companies Inc. no longer works with the Freestate project, so the community must find another sponsor.

In addition, for the past couple of years the carousel has failed to attract the long lines it once did. That contributed to the $1,000 debt at the end of the festival, Mr. Waff said.

That debt was covered by funds raised from previous festivals. But Mr. Waff said that if the festival continues to lose financial and volunteer support, it will have to be ended.

"It's just time for a major rethinking of the festival," he said. "We've got to make sure we make enough money."

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