The growing number of these festivals prompted much discussion and board member comments ranged from thoughtful to emotional. Ultimately a motion was made to ask the City Council to deny the Faraones/Garcia festival request for September and it passed unanimously (eight members voting). Here is a summary of the SID board's concerns:
- merchants with stores near parking lot 8 where Garcia has held previous festivals estimated that they lose 20 - 40% of usual sales during festival days.
- merchants who purchase tables for the festivals pay $800 per day and the SID board members believe that all of them are from out of town - they believe that not one downtown Plainfield merchant has participated in these festivals.
- the SID board described the loud music and outdoor alcoholic beverage consumption as disruptive and discouraging of customer activity in downtown.
- Public urination, presumably related to the drinking activity, has not made for a family friendly shopping environment and according to the SID board members the smell lingers well after the festivals are done.
- The stores near the sound stage experience music so loud that some stores literally vibrate from the music throughout the day and night.
This should make for interesting discussion at Mondays Special Council meeting. The Council has supported the growing number of festivals over the last 5 years because they were presented as opportunities to celebrate the cultures south of our border and bring people to our downtown. The input we are getting now casts serious doubt on the benefits to Plainfield, especially the festivals as they currently operate.
Whatever the Council decides about the Faraones/Garcia proposal on Monday, it is clear that we need to revisit our ordinances regulating where, when and how festivals should be run.