FORT MADISON – The downtown Summer Markets got a boost from the Fort Madison City Council Tuesday night.
Darla Farrell updated the council on what will be the fifth annual Downtown Summer Festival and said she’s trying to blow up this year's festival because not many events last five years in Fort Madison.
Farrell has spearheaded the summer market since it's inception five years ago in 2018. She said this year she wants to make the festival a bit more special to celebrate its fifth year.
“We’re getting ready to do our fifth year starting June 8. We’ll have three markets and they are phenomenal. It took about six months to put it together and it keeps going.”
She said initially she funded the event, but now she tries to keep it out of arrears and she wanted the city to consider waving fees close to $700 for this year’s event.
"Now I have a $700 bill for picnic tables and barricades and things like that. Actually we’re trying to do a five-year celebration and we really don’t need this,” she said.
“We’re going to have to get rid of the picnic tables and some things to keep this where we need to be, otherwise it comes out of my pocket.”
She said she spends a lot advertising with the local outlets, but she said removing picnic tables could hurt food vendors who come to the event.
“It’s a fun event and it should stand on its own. I shouldn’t have to fund it and I’d like to have it waived if I could.”
Farrell said she doesn’t know what the vendor count is until about the end of March. She said there are usually 60 vendors throughout the summer. She said the vendor fee is $45 per market and she said around 20 do all three markets and she discounts those fees to $110.
“That’s my security, so I know they are going to be there. The rest I don’t know until the end of March.”
She said with each new market, she opens it to new vendors.
Pen City Cruisers will be overseeing and organizing the car show on 8th and Avenue G.
“They will organize that so I don’t have to do it, but there’s no charge or anything, they are just a part of my market.”
She said nothing of the caliber of the Summer Market lasts in downtown Fort Madison and this year she suggested having a band and was looking for sponsors to help with the band.
She’s looking at Decade of Decadence to perform in June. She said her nephew plays for the band so they gave her a discount of $600 to play at the June event.
Councilman Chad Cangas asked Farrell if she had any other revenue source for the event other than vendor fees. Farrell said it stands alone and she’s in the past funded the event herself.
She said other costs include portapotties, music, and advertising. She said she used radio, newspapers, digital, and social media.
“You have to advertise religiously because people will forget about it. If you don’t promote it, they don’t come.”
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