2016-09-04 / Opinion

OPEN LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY

Citizen involvement in Lapeer Days appreciated

The Lapeer Days Committee wants to thank all of our wonderful sponsors, vendors, non-profit partners and volunteers for another great Lapeer Days Festival. Most of all, we want to thank the thousands and thousands of attendees for making the festival a success.

Lapeer Days is Michigan’s largest FREE festival, featuring three days of free entertainment and activities that can be enjoyed without any out-of-pocket cost. The overall chamber of commerce Lapeer Days budget of $120,000 is raised through sponsorships and funds generated from vendor fees; it is not supported by grants or tax dollars. This year we had 15 new vendors and for the first time in the history of Lapeer Days, we opened a side street to accommodate four of them and still had a waiting list.

The festival is a major fund raising and awareness campaign platform for more than 23 local non-profits that keep their money and programs here in Lapeer to support families in need. Lapeer Days also generates an average of $300,000–$500,000 in spin-off revenue in our community. Our hotels, gas stations, downtown restaurants, campgrounds and gas stations all benefit.

We’ve asked for and received feedback from the public, which we appreciate. Your input and ideas will help us with planning to make future Lapeer Days even better.

We’d like to share some cost and logistical information about the festival that might help guide the conversation going forward:

• We are not able to move the festival out of the downtown due to the electrical and water requirements of many of our larger vendors and for the three stages of free entertainment.

• Entertainment costs have increased significantly over the past few years. (Consider how much you pay now for a lawn seat at DTE Music Theatre or Meadowbrook!). Our Friday headliner this year, Danielle Bradbery, cost $20,000 for an hour-and-a-half show. Our total entertainment budget is $50,000 that is used to fill three stages for three days.

• We embrace local talent to be a part of our hometown festival as much as possible for entertainment and demonstrations. We have included local dance studios, karate clubs and robotics teams, for example.

• The Skerbeck Family Carnival has not increased their ticket prices for Friday, Saturday and Sunday in over ten years. Armband prices on Wednesday and Thursday have not increased in five years and are on par or less than other carnivals in our area. Skerbeck will be offering an armband day next year on Sunday. Skerbeck is under contract for a specific number of large rides each year. However the configuration of the carnival set up changes and can appear as though there are fewer rides.

Unfortunately, we cannot control how people dress for the festival. We cannot control whether they bring their dogs downtown. If our volunteers overhear profane or offensive language, we politely remind the speaker that it is a family event with children nearby. These are issues for which we rely on common sense and common decency to prevail.

Our volunteers work for months, on their personal time, to bring the Lapeer Days festival to our neighbors and visitors from other communities. Our committee members put in about 2,000 hours that weekend alone from set up Thursday to tear down on Sunday. We live and work here and we are dedicated to this community. We sincerely want Lapeer Days to be a celebration and maker of happy memories.

We’re open to your ideas and especially to your involvement. Come, join us as a volunteer and help us make Lapeer Days bigger and better next year!

Tim Lipka and

Charlie Mitchell

Lapeer Days Committee Co-Chairmen

Neda Payne

Lapeer Area Chamber of Commerce

Executive Director

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