fiesta mexicana

Festival leaving Festival Park: La Fiesta Mexicana cites rising fees

2013-04-13T20:52:00Z 2013-12-24T11:07:08Z Festival leaving Festival Park: La Fiesta Mexicana cites rising feesLUKE FEUERHERM Journal Times

RACINE COUNTY — Citing rising fees, organizers of La Fiesta Mexicana have decided to part ways with Festival Park, host to an annual fiesta for nearly two decades.

Instead, this year’s festival will likely be held in mid-September at the Caledonia-Mount Pleasant Memorial Park — at a fraction of the price, according to organizer Yolanda Adams, president and executive officer of the Urban League of Racine and Kenosha.

“This could be where we have it from now on, depending on how things go this year,” said Adams, after receiving initial approval from the Joint Park Commission on Thursday.

For years, a Mexican festival had been organized by the Hispanic Business and Professionals Association. But after unexpected debt put an end to their annual events, Adams and other local nonprofit organizations stepped in last year to

continue the tradition under the name La Fiesta Mexicana. The event features music, food and cultural exhibits.

With little time to plan last year’s festivities, the group stuck with tradition and booked the longtime home of the former event at Festival Park, Adams said.

This year, however, Adams said she was told rates at Festival Park were increasing from $5,000 a day to $6,000 a day.

“We would have loved to have it there and give the money to the City of Racine,” Adams said. “It’s a beautiful park and we love it, but it’s above what we can afford right now.”

And so organizers began looking for a new location and, after plans to host the event at the Racine Zoo fell through, they shifted away from a lakeside locale and to the west.

Along with the added benefit of being closer to Interstate 94 to add convenience for festivalgoers from Milwaukee and Illinois, the joint park at 9614 Highway K also comes with a price tag about one-fifth that of Festival Park, Adams said.

Rik Edgar, executive director for the Racine Civic Centre, which includes Festival Park, 5 Fifth St., could not be reached for comment Friday.

At Thursday’s park commission meeting, members seemed excited about the prospect of bringing the festival to the park and voted unanimously to approve organizers’ proposal for the two-day event on Sept. 14 and 15.

Park representatives and festival organizers will now work on drafting a contract for the event. Adams said she would not say what price estimate she originally received from park representatives because final contract details still needed to be ironed out.

And the savings from switching venues, Adams said, will in part go to expanding the festival’s entertainment budget, and she expects to bring in at least one big act this year in addition to a number of local acts. Adams thinks that the change in entertainment and location will also lead to more attendees than last year’s festival, which drew about 1,800 people over two days.

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(21) Comments

  1. Doodlebug
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    Doodlebug - April 15, 2013 9:57 am
    I think the Caledonia Mt. Pleasant Park is a great location. We'll welcome the Fiesta and any others that want to be there. Its a FAMILY venue!
  2. ride2fast4me
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    ride2fast4me - April 15, 2013 2:40 am
    Interesting that when you tax something, you get less of it....something the current administration just does not get!
  3. stop and think
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    stop and think - April 14, 2013 5:00 pm
    I think there's a disconnect between what people were told Festival Park was going to be when it was built years ago and what it now must be because the way the world and economy has changed. Festival Hall is more productive than you might imagine, with private functions, parties, weddings, etc. But a lot of people still have it in their minds that it shoudl be hosting festivals every week. I realize that's what people were sold on years ago, but that's simply not what it is anymore, nor can it be if it wants to remain open.
  4. Django
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    Django - April 14, 2013 4:52 pm
    The Civic Centre is a continual drain on taxpayers:

    We pay and pay through the nose to support the Civic Centre, another downtown entity that takes more and more of our money with no return on the investment, just more debt and lies.
  5. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - April 14, 2013 4:24 pm
    The City has now started to lay off Police, Fire, and other city workers. The JT will have the story later - it's still breaking.

    YET - TEAM Porters got their millions$$$$. Doug Nicholson and Joey LeGath still got their hands in the city coffers..... oh well....
  6. heloman30
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    heloman30 - April 14, 2013 2:05 pm
    .Ok, I have an actual proposal; The city gets the gate- lets set a gate price, I suggest six bucks. no mark ups on anything ells period! The event can bring in beer or whatever without going through the festival hall people- no extra fees! One thousand people through the door a day means 6k; the top grossing events of the year gets priority for dates. If you're a bonafide club from town you get this deal if not you pay a 50% deposit, if you don't make the gate minimums you lose your deposit. If you make these minimums you get your deposit back and you get to keep your dates for the next year. 6k a day is not that bad, but I wonder about all the extras??? With almost all volunteers at these events it should be doable with beer sales alone the way we all drink.
  7. Green Racinereal
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    Green Racinereal - April 14, 2013 1:22 pm
    Real Racine under Dave Blank should run this and Rik tossed out.
  8. johmny
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    johmny - April 14, 2013 1:09 pm
    I agree!
  9. DoubleBassFace
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    DoubleBassFace - April 14, 2013 1:08 pm
    Look, your selling the wrong people, we live here, we know we get NOWHERE near a decent return on Festival Hall, through events or revenue. The taxpayers pay hundreds of thousands to have a lame band every six months and an occasional stage play or something. Fact is we have many places in Racine that already provide that entertainment with no cost to the residents. We should have dumped this waste of money years ago. Look how things have declined there the last 5 years. It's an utter joke the lame brain city council and mayor cannot see through this BS and save money there. Party On Lying John
  10. ChuckyD
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    ChuckyD - April 14, 2013 1:06 pm
    The business model of the park was flawed form the beginning and city government never could come to grips with it.

    There are many factors that playing on this situation. Festivals for the most part do not receive much value form the "Hall" part of the venue. The Hall is where most of the costs are associated with the facility, not the outdoor colonnade area. The Hall drives utility costs and staffing needs.
    Their business model called for non-profits to provide the programming using free labor. These events are run by mostly inexperienced volunteers wanting to support their cause and be apart of the community. Many of the events struggled against rising costs and the pressure from competition for the consumers' dollar. They simply were not equiped or experienced to run a big-time event. The fee structure demanded by the city is not feasible for groups running small to medium size events. There is not simply enough revenue to offset the rental cost. The city felt obligated to raise fees to offset rising costs. It took the city 10 years to figure out it didn't need 4 full time staffers to run the business. In the meantime, very little has been done to maintain the once crown jewel of Racine.
    Festival Hall is another example of government failing in running a business. The facility needs programming not more operations know-how. Local programming requires someone to invest their time and resources to make it happen. Most people including many at city hall (past and present) have very little respect for all of the effort that goes into hosting a large scale fest. We used to have many dedicated people who spent the lion share of the year planning and executing their events. There is no one at city hall or Fest Park that knows how to program to Festival Park. It is sad but at one time Festival Park was our rallying point for all that was good in Racine. We were proud of what we had and proud of the groups that hosted the events. It made us feel good about our city. It's a shame.
  11. stop and think
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    stop and think - April 14, 2013 12:37 pm
    I'm curious why this is such a breaking news story that the Journal Times would opt to run it completely one-sided without speaking with anyone at Festival Hall? I understand the reasoning in wanting to get something out quickly, but I would prefer to read all of the information, rather than just one side of the information. As a previous commentator has already mentioned, Fiesta Mexicana was known to pay way too much for its entertainment and poor weather in recent years certainly did have a negative impact on the festival. I hope it works out for them. But I also remember reading an article a couple of years ago about how a longtime event held at Festival Hall was moving away for various reasons. And lo and behold, Post Prom is back after realizing that the grass is indeed not always greener on the other side.
    No, I don't work at Festival Hall or for the city at all, for that matter. But I am alert enough to know what is going on around me. I do know that in recent years, Memorial Hall was outfitted with brand new fire-retardant curtains as well as a new lighting system that allows them to bring in acts such as Hairball and Lightwire Theatre. Festival Hall also recently replaced the ugly, outdated green plastic chairs with much nicer black fabric chairs. These are only a few of the updates that have happened recently, and I'm sure many more are coming. The carpet was also replaced and I think we all know about the new roof color (People, it's not copper; it's copper color!).
    So we all can remainupset that "nothing ever happens at Festival Hall" or you can pay attention to the world around you and realize that just in the next couple of months, Xtreme Wrestling Cage Fighting, Kiwanis' Pancake Breakfast, the Belle City Brewfest, another awesome Hairball concert, Postprom, the Ironman Marathon, Italian fest and a slew of other private and organizational events will be taking place at Festival Hall and Memorial Hall.
    True, festivals are leaving because they can't make ends meet at Festival Hall. Perhaps the honus of that is not on Festival Hall, but the organizers of these events instead? Congratulations to them for recognizing that the revenues they are bringing in are not meeting their expenses and realizing a change is in order. But, more importantly, congrats to Rik Edgar and the people behind the scenes at Festival Hall for the great job they have been doing, regardless if many of the community want to remain with their heads in the sand. (Which, by the way, if it is in the sand of North beach, at least you know it is at one of the cleanest beachees in the country!)
  12. Green Racinereal
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    Green Racinereal - April 14, 2013 11:48 am
    I predict the following:
    1) The Civic Center to look for bidders to do Videos to bring folks to Festival Park.
    2) The winning bid (if not the only bid) to be "won" by a good friend of the Mayor.
    3) The J-T tells us there is nothing wrong with that processes
    4) An investigation on the ethics of this is asked for, perhaps a court case follows.
    5) More $$ spent on something not needed. I shut this down before I fire one fireman/policeman
  13. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - April 14, 2013 10:26 am
    You know The JT lies.

    Why wouldn't you check the City of Racine Audited Financial Reports? RUSD has indeed dumbed-down the residents.

    Hey - you got that $1,000 you owe me?
  14. GetYourIdiotVaccination
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    GetYourIdiotVaccination - April 14, 2013 10:20 am
    This sounds right on par with how most of the government works in this town. Economy struggling? Lets raise prices on everything! Highest unemployment in the state? Lets start some unnecessary remodeling projects! City budget in the red? Lets find creative ways to dig in the citizens pockets and run up over $6k in debt in one year on their tab! Personally, I've had all the abuse I can take from our city leaders. 99% of them have absolutely 0 responsibility to those who's taxes pay their salaries. Yet we still have alderman running unopposed? I surely can't be the only one making plans to leave this hole ASAP, after living here my whole life. Goodbye Racine and good luck, you'll need it!
  15. sundogusa
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    sundogusa - April 14, 2013 9:36 am
    Nice article! Too bad it was totally one sided.
    The last two years this festival hired high priced bands. The event was rained out so the festival lost big time. And no they did not have event insurance.
    So it seems it's everyones fault except theirs.

    So reading these other comments...What should the city do with the CIvic Center? Close it? You pretty much say its a white elephant. Someone has to run it. The City? They lost money for 20+ years, did almost zero maintenance, and just about closed it.
    It was bid out to be run by a 3rd party to recoup losses. Seems like it's doing that! The festivals that were every weekend have moved to different locations where they can operate for free or very low cost and NOT RETURN any money to the city.

    Do I have an inside to the Civic Center? NO. I read about the losses in the paper.
  16. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - April 14, 2013 9:13 am
    Do you say that because you TRULY don't understand the situation OR because you do understand the situation and wish to MISLEAD the people?

    You're no friend of the working man.
  17. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - April 14, 2013 9:11 am
    Rik Edgar, executive director for the Racine Civic Centre, which includes Festival Park, 5 Fifth St., could not be reached for comment Friday.

    Where's all that money and profit that you are returning to the City - RIK? Any day now - it's going to turn around.... I can feel it, just BELIEVE!

    Since a city in terminal decline, like Racine, can't afford everything the Politicians want - hard choices will need to be made soon. Don't expect Racine City Hall to make the correct ones!

    Police and Fire OR a Zoo and Festival Hall? Hmmm.... Choices, Choices.

    How about the City SELLS Festival Hall to a private operator - so the City can just pocket the profits..... OH WAIT! There are NO profits to be made at Festival Hall and nobody would buy it - just like Belle Marina and Sam's Marina, and Reefpoint Marina! and the ZOO!

    Racine is headed towards economic collapse under politicians who want it all yet the tax base can't afford it. Two lines are slowly coming to a point - what the taxpayers can afford, and what the politicians must spend to maintain all these non-performing, profitless "assets" that are actually liabilities.
  18. phoner2
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    phoner2 - April 14, 2013 9:01 am
    No festival park is what I call it now. They've chased out the festivals.
  19. Zorro
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    Zorro - April 14, 2013 8:55 am
    That's the problem with "privatization." It lines pockets while deteriorating public service.
  20. Racine315
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    Racine315 - April 13, 2013 11:50 pm
    I miss the days when Racine had festivals every weekend.
  21. sam cook
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    sam cook - April 13, 2013 10:53 pm
    Festival park as its name implies was suppose to be the place for civic festivals.. Instead there have been very little improvements and increasing fees that have padded the pockets of the contractor the city hired to run the civic center.. It's time for the citizens to take back our "civic center" and for the city boot out the fat cat contractor!
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