Final Lake Elkhorn Festival set in Sept.

Lagging attendance, lack of volunteers forcing event's end

March 22, 2006|By TYRONE RICHARDSON | TYRONE RICHARDSON,SUN REPORTER

A still-to-be-determined event will replace one of Columbia's longest-running annual festivals, but not before that festival's last hurrah in September.

The Lake Elkhorn Festival, which was started in 1974, will end after this year because of lack of attendance and volunteers, said Owen Brown village officials.

"We're going to rethink the festival and, hopefully, come up with a new concept as to what we want to do for the community," said Neil Dorsey, chairman of the Owen Brown Village Board. "With a lot of new families in the community, it's time to give something new."

Village officials said attendance has decreased, and the festival has contended with cancellations because of bad weather. Officials said that last year's festival lost $1,100.

In January, officials issued a questionnaire for the 3,500 village residents, asking whether the festival should be continued. Fifty-three questionnaires were returned, said Ruth Bohse, the Owen Brown village manager. Bohse said "slightly more than 50 percent" of respondents wanted to continue the event.

"They said it should continue because they thought it was a tradition, and it fostered community spirit," Bohse said. "Whether it made money or not, they thought it should continue."

But Bohse and other village officials said more volunteers would have been needed to justify continuing the festival.

"We did not have a number of people that would be willing to volunteer, and the ones that said they were willing to volunteer were already volunteering," Dorsey said. "We were really looking for new people."

Dorsey said a replacement for the Lake Elkhorn Festival has not been chosen. But Bohse said that one idea is to build on Celebrate Owen Brown, which recognizes the accomplishments of the village.

"It was a successful event, and we will probably merge upon that, or they may think up new things," Bohse said.

tyrone.richardson@baltsun.com

This year's Lake Elkhorn Festival is to be held Sept. 16.

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