By Lynne Beard
For the Star-Gazette
A public forum was held at the community building on Nov. 12 to discuss carnival expenses and parade route changes at the Chandlerville Improvement Council meeting. Several local residents, representatives of Conner Amusements, and village board members held a lively discussion for nearly three hours.
Cookie Stone wanted to see “the parade route changed back from south to north.” She also thought there “should not be restrictions on what vendors could sell in the park so that high school classes could sell products they used to sell in the past.” For example, the junior class always sponsored a lemon shake-up stand. The current carnival contract restricts vendors from selling the same product that it sells.
Dorothy Richard also wanted the parade route changed back from south to north because elderly citizens like to sit in the downtown area to watch the parade. She would also like results of the burgoo expenditures published in the newspaper.
Marinda Behrends, representative from the village council, expressed a concern board members had that “Main Street remain clear from Friday evening through Saturday during the Burgoo festivities. City council members would also like the parade route changed back from south to north.”
Wadine Mibb, village trustee, commented, “The parade route was too short and people were parking along the parade route attending the Masonic Lodge breakfast.”
Mike Ryan, a 15-year veteran of the Improvement Council, spoke on what a thankless job it is to plan an event for everyone in town and how the council tries to do the best job it can. He addressed the issue raised by Cookie Stone concerning classes participating with booths at the burgoo. “The council has never told any classes they could not participate. Letters were sent to school sponsors with no response. The carnival stipulates restrictions in its concession agreement. What does the town want?”
Marinda Behrends responded, “The town wants a burgoo. Since the village council is financially responsible for the improvement council, a decision needs to be made whether a carnival is the best option since it lost money this year.”
Laura Richard commented on the lack of communication between Improvement Council members. She would like to see less bickering and more compromise on the issues under discussion. “Try to find some way to have the carnival and change the parade route back to the old route.”
John Conner explained the reason for the bigger rides remaining on Main Street. After the incident three years ago where an employee was injured by a ride coming in contact with a power line, OSHA made him change the locations of the rides. The big rides have to be set up on Main Street. Power lines and trees on side streets around the park would interfere. The village pays $6,500 guaranteed for 6 to 7 rides, game trailers and a concession stand. This year advance ticket sales were down and the village failed to make a profit and owed the carnival $4,000. This was the first time in 4 years the improvement council did not make a profit on carnival sales.
June Conner stated, “We take our employees home with us every night. There are not people hanging around the streets.” No one can dispute that Conner Amusements is one the cleanest and best carnivals in our area and has been a standard at the Chandlerville Burgoo. Many citizens have fond memories of riding his (Conner Amusements) rides as a child. Kyle Conner said, “The most popular age group who ride rides are from 8 to 18 years old.” There was discussion about whether to leave the big rides out and just bring smaller rides, but John stipulated that he would like to keep the mix the way it is. It would not be financially practical for him to only bring small rides and not big rides.
The improvement council discussed the possibility of renting blow up rides, such as the A-C Central PTO use. This would save money, but would require more manpower.
The main problem that the Improvement Council faces is the lack of people in the community willing to step up to the plate and help out. The council will be taking a look at ways to spend less money and possibly cutting one day out of the festival in order to save money. Soliciting donations were down, corporate funding was down and if anyone has any ideas please contact one of the Improvement Council members with suggestions.
The Improvement Council normally meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. It takes November and December off, but resumes in January. The council is in desperate need of new ideas and faces. Please help keep our little town alive and productive and volunteer to help.