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Town weighs Colorfest cost options

Sarah Harrington

(1/21) About 20 residents and Catoctin Colorfest participants attended a workshop hosted by the town to generate new ideas and suggestions on ways that the town could increase revenue and decrease costs from the annual fall craft and art festival, with the goal for the town to break even.

The town’s expenses include busing event goers to and from parking lots, sanitation, and security and policing for the event. This past year the town spent $61,589 during the event, but the event only returned $49,153 to the town, in the form of permits and parking fees, leaving a deficit of over $12,000 that had to be picked up by the residents of Thurmont. This was the fourth year that the town has lost money on Colorfest.

Attendees at the workshop included Catoctin Colorfest participants who play a large role in creating the event each year and property owners who rent out their properties during the colorfest weekend. The workshop was opened to the public as well.

During the workshop, Mayor Kinnaird proposed that the town consider increasing the price of parking, from $10 to $15. The town would receive $4 of the $15, with the other $11going to the groups who manage the parking lots. Mayor Kinnaird noted that the increase would be beneficial and that the $5 increase would not deter event goers.

Commissioner Wayne Hooper expressed his dislike in raising fees but agreed that an increase in parking fees should be made.

But Colorfest representatives objected to the parking fee increase suggestion, pointing out that event goers were already unhappy with the $10 parking fee. They worried that the $5 increase would cause people to turn away from the event. Colorfest participants encouraged town leaders to first try to reduce the town’s expenses before they begin discussing increasing the fees.

Commissioners Wes Hamrick and Bill Buehrer did not agree with increasing parking fees, instead they encouraged the town to take a deeper look at the expenses of the event and try to balance the budget by reducing expenses.

Commissioner Burns reminded workshop participants that this issue is one the town deals with every few years with Colorfest. His suggestion was that the town take a closer look at the expenses from the annual event or increase revenue form the event by raising permits fee costs by $20 (with the exception of nonprofit yard sales.)

The board will continue discussing these options at a workshop held at a later date.

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