ST. CHARLES – Pride of the Fox again will produce RiverFest, the St. Charles Government Operations Committee unanimously decided Tuesday.
“We’re ready to take on the challenge,” said Julie Farris, the group’s leader.
A series of circumstances resulted in two groups – Pride of the Fox and the St. Charles Festival Committee – willing to take on the annual June festival. Each asked the city for financial support.
“Why wouldn’t we merge together and do this as one committee?” 1st Ward alderman Jon Monken said.
“Somebody has to be in charge,” said Joy Meierhans of the St. Charles Festival Committee.
In her pitch, Meierhans focused on her experience as a certified festival and event executive, the festival committee’s 20-year history of running RiverFest, and Pride of the Fox’s three-year leadership that ended in a $15,000 shortfall and leadership resignations.
Farris defended Pride of the Fox’s leadership. A bad economy and increased costs worked against the festival, she said, noting torrential rains in 2010 and 2011 also didn’t help.
“Vendors lost booths, and attendees stayed home,” Farris said.
Pride of the Fox, however, built a volunteer base of 150 people, reduced the main stage hours Sunday to be friendlier to surrounding homes, increased local sponsorship and worked with the police department to produce a “problem free” main stage, among other achievements, she said.
Farris said her decision to step down from Pride of the Fox was based on the understanding there would be a merger with the Downtown St. Charles Partnership. When she realized the partnership wasn’t producing the festival, she emailed the city about resuming her former role, she said.
She offered the city title sponsorship of the festival, which would include numerous benefits, such as passes to the sponsorship tent, recognition on various banners and a free boat entry in the dragon boat races.
The committee recommended approval of Pride of the Fox’s financial request: $30,000 – up from the city’s traditional $18,000 stipend – and a 50 percent discount of city services.
Members engaged in little discussion about the two proposals. Aldermen Cliff Carrignan and Maureen Lewis were absent.