Nonprofit seeks lease for Latino festival

Council must OK holding event at City Dock in fall


April 06, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Organizers of a Latino-themed festival are appealing to the Annapolis city council to help them obtain a lease for their September event.

The nonprofit Association of Latin Marylanders in Anne Arundel County hopes to hold the inaugural Annapolis Latin Festival from Sept. 24 to 26 at City Dock, the city's major tourist attraction at the foot of Main Street. But festival organizers did not obtain a lease from the city and were worried they would have to reschedule or cancel the event.

All events held at the City Dock must have council-approved leases.

Alderwoman Classie Gillis Hoyle said she would sponsor the group's lease application and that she expects to see it on the council's agenda Monday. This comes as a relief to festival organizers, who have spent nearly $10,000 on the event.

"Very few Latinos come downtown, even though they work there. [This] will give them an ability to come down and enjoy the city they work in and show Americans that tacos aren't the only Latin food," said Maria Sasso, executive director of ALMAA.

Even though organizers got permits from police this year, they didn't know that they needed a lease for the event, according to Sasso. A similar Latino festival had to be moved from Truxton Park in Annapolis in 2001 because organizers did not get the proper permits.

Not everyone is supportive of having another major event at City Dock. Some downtown businesses say the annual boat shows, which are held each fall at City Dock, take away customers and parking, and they are worried that the Latino festival could do the same.

"When you have a festival, the normal customer base is totally eradicated. Our businesses are cut by nearly 80 percent," said Sveinn Storm, co-owner of the Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory on Dock Street, next to City Dock.

Alderwoman Sheila M. Tolliver said she is also concerned and wants to see the festival reach an agreement with local businesses. "I'm concerned with events in general that have an effect on our residents and businesses," Tolliver said.

Alderman Josh Cohen said, "I see no reason it should not go forward, assuming they can work out logistics."

Sasso said the festival would not have a big impact on nearby businesses because it would only feature Latin-themed food and beverages and would not serve alcohol.

She and other ALMAA board members plan to begin meeting with business owners this week. "We really want them to join in the spirit of this," said Sasso.

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