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Purdy festival discussed with city council

Friday, September 14, 2012

Purdy R-2 School Superintendent Dr. Steven Chancellor, at right, showed Purdy aldermen a prototype for banners that could be displayed on Business Highway 37, bearing graphics or messages on both sides. Aldermen responded enthusiastically to the idea. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Views over running the recent community festival in Purdy and the city's future role in the undertaking was discussed at the August meeting of the Purdy City Council.

David Mareth, one of the initial organizers, and Laura Hensley, one of the three co-chairpersons of the festival, addressed the council. Mareth said he heard "a lot of negativity" coming from city hall about the event and he wanted all the coordinators to "be on the same page."

According to Mareth, between 1,500 and 2,000 people went through the Purdy City Park on the day of the event. Hensley said the festival was a success, with revenue remaining to buy supplies such as trash cans that were borrowed this year, or to purchase bigger signs to direct parking.

July 20, 2013, has already been scheduled for the next festival.

Mareth said he wanted to hear of any problems city officials had with the festival. One was communication. Police Chief Jackie Lowe volunteered to serve as the city's liaison with the organizers. Mareth said the public was likely to come to the city for information and encouraged city leaders to distribute general information and forms.

One of the bigger problems was parking. Mayor Ron Dutra said some seniors did not attend because they did not want to walk from the ballfield back to the park. Mareth said parking space had been left by the school superintendent's office for seniors, but it was not used.

Alderman Steve Roden said people probably did not know the closer parking was available. Hensley agreed that having bigger signs would help.

Lowe said the biggest problem he had came from people moving the parking barriers on Highway C, which was closed for the first time in memory. People also parked on both sides of Washington, blocking visibility. Parked vehicles on Third Street blocked in the mail trucks.

Mareth pressed the city leaders to take ownership of the festival. Because the event extensively used school property, he said the school district largely found itself responsible for the festival. Rather than leaving the event in the hands of a committee, or the school, where personnel periodically changes, Mareth encouraged the city to assume a leadership role in the festival's future.

"If we have some communication, we'll be there to do what we can," said Roden. "It's for the community. We'll see a lot less confusion next year."

There was general agreement that a published map of the festival arrangement would help those attending. A list of suggestions provided by vendors and attendees sought longer hours for food sales and a consolidation of vendors in one locations.

A variety of activities were suggested to expand entertainment, including Latin dances and a 5K run. The use of church buses for shuttle service may further help the parking situation.

City Clerk Debbie Redshaw said she would talk to the city's accountant about how an organizational arrangement could be arranged. She noted even the Purdy Renewal Project presently operated under the school district's umbrella.

Roden said even if the city took on a greater role, a committee would likely still have to run the event. Mareth voiced concern that the festival would not grow into a perpetual attraction if left in private hands.

Hensley said she would compile more details about how the city could become involved and bring them back for future discussion.

Banner proposal

School Superintendent Dr. Steven Chancellor also brought a proposal for aldermen. Having swapped ideas with Dutra about displaying community pride, Chancellor recalled other communities have banners displayed from their utility poles.

Chancellor showed aldermen a mock-up banner created by the school art department. One side showed the town name and eagle mascot. The other, he said, could carry a written message, or have alternating messages from banner to banner.

The banners could be displayed along Business Highway 37, where there are 27 poles. Not all the poles are suitable for banners, but working off a price for that many poles, the banners and brackets for top and bottom would cost around $3,800.

Chancellor said he did not come to ask for money, only for agreement to jointly pursue the banner project with the school district to promote community pride. Roden said the city should participate financially, and Dutra echoed the idea.

"If it gets us one more child (for the school), the idea will have paid for itself," Chancellor said.

Chancellor said he would bring back more design ideas for the banners to finalize plans with council members.

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