Plans for this summer’s Cactus Festival Parade were moving ahead while details of the Festival itself remained in limbo, last week.
Parade chair Donna Lavin said the Dundas Driving Park has been booked for set-up and marshaling of floats and participants in the annual parade – scheduled for Thursday, August 15.
Meanwhile, the chair of the Cactus Festival was looking into whether the event application can be altered to include a street closure as well as events in the park.
“This year’s theme is Throw Back Thursday which promises to generate interesting floats reflecting past memories of our community,” Lavin said, of the parade. “Applications and band requests are already coming in.”
Event applications for the parade and festival to the city are completely separate, and Lavin said the park and required road closures have already been booked and organized for the evening.
“As always, we are looking for some enthusiastic volunteers to help before, during and after this great community event,” Lavin said.
Lavin and current Cactus Festival Association chair David Longo have already met, and discussed the parade’s need to use the entre Driving Park. Longo said that isn’t a problem, and any festival events that take place in the Park won’t be set up until the day after the parade.
But Longo wasn’t clear Monday afternoon on where the festival’s application stands with the City of Hamilton.
The existing application includes no road closures but does include a stage in downtown Dundas. The proposal includes midway rides in a downtown parking lot, and a stage in the Dundas Driving Park.
The city’s Special Event Advisory Team (SEAT) delayed an assessment of that application from March 14 to its April meeting. It does not review programming, but only specific city policies that relate to public safety and municipal property.
Longo said he’s not sure if a competing festival application has been submitted, after an organized opposition to the plan to relocate much of the street festival into the park.
But, if he has the authority, Longo plans to ask the SEAT working group chair if the committee can amend it’s original application to add a limited road closure – potentially with vendors along the middle of the street to improve access to existing businesses – in addition to use of the Driving Park for programming.
He said remaining committee members aren’t interested in fighting with another group vying for control of the festival.
Cactus Festival past president Steve Deighton said last week he called a meeting where it was decided to hand the reigns of the event back to him, and withdraw the original festival application. But it’s not clear if that can be done – and city staff has not said the application has been withdrawn, only delayed by one month.
At Wednesday night’s Dundas Community Council meeting, city councillor Russ Powers told members internal bickering and confusion among volunteers will not threaten the 2013 Cactus Festival.
“There will be a festival in Dundas on that weekend,” Powers said.
He also suggested there will not be a wholesale relocation of the event into the Driving Park. He said a presence on King Street West will continue.
Vincent Surdyk, who owns a laundromat on King Street West said he recognizes downtown bars and restaurants don’t want to lose the long-running street festival, but said some business owners don’t like street closures.
“We lose money when the vendors are there,” Surdyk said. “It’s bad for us. It should be about the community first, not the vendors who are there for three days. My customers go somewhere else when the street is closed.”
He suggested there are other businesses that feel the same way.
According to Downtown Dundas BIA chair Phyllis Kraemer, the organization’s board of management passed a motion supporting the Cactus Festival staying on King Street West.
“That being said, there was a positive sentiment from all Board members that additional programming at the park to enhance Cactus Festival would be a good idea, in conjunction with events being planned for the downtown,” Kraemer said.
But she also noted Wednesday night the BIA and its board has nothing to do with Cactus Festival.
Longo stressed there are some misconceptions in the community around Cactus Festival – chief among them that it might be a city-run or BIA-run event, which it is not.
The Cactus Festival Association is an independent, non-profit corporation run entirely by volunteers.
Longo said some new members who joined the Cactus Festival organizing committee this year are not interested in running a street festival, and were intrigued by a new vision that included programming in the Driving Park.
A Facebook group called Cactus Festival Belongs on King Street formed last Monday and had 648 ‘likes’ within four days.
Cactus Festival isn’t the only local event looking at significant changes to deal with financial pressures. In Ancaster, the Knights of Columbus Lobsterfest is moving from Morgan Firestone Arena to Ancaster Fairgrounds.