by Joshua Maloni
The Village of Lewiston will not charge festival organizers a fee to stage events, Mayor Terry Collesano said Monday night. The Board of Trustees will instead pursue other avenues to recoup funds associated with public safety and cleanup costs.
Collesano said more information would be forthcoming when details are in place. One item trustees approved this week is charging nominal park fees for those looking to use village lands for weddings or reunions.
The news comes on the heels of a meeting held two weeks ago between the board and representatives from the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, the Historic Lewiston Jazz Festival, the Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Festival, the Lewiston Garden Club and the Lewiston Council on the Arts. All organizers were opposed to fees. Moreover, trustees were told festival profit margins are slim, and money raised goes back into promoting the village and the River Region.
"It did give the board the chance to hear where the festival organizers were coming from," NRRCC President Jennifer Pauly said. These events, she continued, "bring people to Lewiston and show off all the different things that are here."
The Board of Trustees had toyed with the idea of charging festival organizers a flat fee or a percentage of the village's cost to patrol and pickup. The municipality spent more than $4,150 last year for Department of Public Works employees to clean Center Street and adjoining areas following the seven summer/early fall festivals. The village tallied nearly $11,000 more in police-related fees.
Those physical costs, however, were outweighed by the marketing potential established by the festivals.
"We see so many people who love the village and they come back time and again to enjoy what the village has to offer," Pauly said.
Organizers estimate more than 110,000 people visit Lewiston each year during festival season.