City should have committed to festival months ago

We hate to be party poopers, but it looks like trying to organize this year’s Hamtramck Labor Day Festival is a bust.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, a lengthy debate was held on whether to cancel the event, modify it or go on with the show using “community members” to organize it.

Frankly, what we heard was largely disheartening. There are so many conflicting views about what to do we doubt anyone will be able to get it together – especially with Labor Day weekend just three months away.

It seems to be a case of having to put too much together, too soon. City officials should have made a decision about the festival months ago when budget talks began.

Either we should have committed to the festival back in January when it was known the city was facing financial trouble or a decision should have been made to cancel it.

To make matters worse, the city’s special events coordinator, Eve Doster Knepp, has told the city that a number of vendors have bolted to the Arts, Beats and Eats Festival, which has relocated to Royal Oak this year. Knepp did a bang up job organizing the festival last year, but she is being laid off.

Other vendors, she said, have become skittish about participating after getting wind of the city’s financial woes.
Bottom line: it’s not looking good at all this year. Maybe instead of holding a festival this year city officials should start planning for next year.

In the meantime, an open meeting will be held on Monday (June 14), 6:30 p.m. at People’s Community Services, 8625 Jos. Campau for the public to talk about how to hold the festival.

While the sense of community spirit is nice, having volunteers run the festival sounds like a terrible idea. There are too many liability questions as well as security issues to allow volunteers to be in charge.

It should also be kept in mind that Hamtramck is not alone in canceling major events. Detroit’s Taste Fest was canceled, Troy’s city fest was axed and Roseville has canceled its fireworks.

These are dire financial times. Many cities across the country are facing stability questions. Hamtramck may even have to face the possibility of merging some of its services or perhaps merging with Detroit entirely.

We need to get our financial house in order before we worry about holding a festival.

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