FallFest crowds equal `00 but spending dips

Event draws 50,000 or more

4 charities to receive proceeds

October 02, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Westminster's annual five-day fall festival in City Park drew between 50,000 and 60,000 people who welcomed the changing seasons by riding the Ferris wheel, making scarecrows and eating funnel cake.

But FallFest - which ran from Wednesday to Sunday - didn't generate the kind of profits it usually does, according to event chairman Ronald J. Schroers.

"Our income was down from last year," said Schroers, Westminster's director of parks and recreation. In other respects, he said, the festival was an "extreme success."

About the same number of people attended the festival as last year, but they didn't spend as much money on food and rides, said Schroers. However, less expensive children's activities such as face painting and scarecrow making were more popular than last year, he added.

"I really believe the economy is a little tight right now," he said. "You could see people were buying less."

In its 23rd year, FallFest is sponsored by Westminster and run by hundreds of volunteers.

Last year, the festival raised $18,000 for six local charities, money that went to support initiatives including therapeutic horse riding, anti-drug campaigns and programs for the developmentally disabled.

This year, the festival benefited The Arc of Carroll County, which provides housing and job placement services for the disabled; Residents Attacking Drugs; North East Social Action Program; and mobile health clinic Mission of Mercy.

Profits from this year's festival have not been calculated, but the drop in revenue was not expected to affect how much the charities would receive.

Organizers cut their $12,000 entertainment budget in half this year and chose two fewer charities to benefit from the festival.

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