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Fun Fest 2006 Report

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Well after the final event wrapped up at this weekend's Fun Fest celebration, the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce was still feeling the heat.

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A fair number of complaints were registered during the four-day celebration. Some of the problems could be attributed to the wholesale changes implemented for this year's gathering. Other issues were directly related to temperatures hovering near 100 degrees.

Overall, Chamber Executive Director Russ Korpela was upbeat when assessing this year's Fun Fest.

In an interview Monday, Korpela admitted there were three problems that need to be addressed before next year:

1. A glitch in the planning forced some people to pay a cover charge for the Friday evening band concert if they wanted to eat at the food booths. Korpela said the issue was solved by Saturday, but not before some Fun Fest attendees left angered by the situation.

"We did not anticipate the number of people who wanted to come to the food court after 8:30 or 9 p.m.," Korpela said.

He said it was not the Chamber's intention to charge people who wanted to eat only.

"We apologize to anybody who showed up to eat and did not want to pay a cover charge," Korpela said. "It's something we will rectify in the future."

2. Parking was inadequate near the festival grounds and midway of rides.

"People ended up walking about as far as they'd have walked downtown, but it still was a pretty long walk," he admitted. "Especially when you consider the heat."

The Chamber hopes to work with businesses in the Industrial Park to allow for the use of their lots in the future, Korpela said.

3. The food court and music venues were too far away from the carnival.

Because of the heat, Korpela said the distance among the Fun Fest activities turned out to be too great.

"Now that we have a year for planning, there are solutions to that problem as well," he said.

Apart from those items, Korpela said organizers were happy with the outcome of this year's Fun Fest.

"If we can solve those things, that would cover 90 percent of the constructive criticism we received," he said.

Among the positive aspects of Fun Fest weekend:

1. Christman Amusements reported a slight downturn in business, although some of that could be attributed to the heat, Korpela said. The fact that the carnival opened Thursday night helped, because there was a good crowd at the Midway that evening. "They're committed, along with us, to stay out there (at the new festival grounds)," he said.

2. The grand parade, which moved from its traditional Sunday afternoon slot of 5 p.m. Saturday, lasted about 45 minutes. Korpela said the length of the parade was about right, because the heat was difficult for parade units and audience members alike.

The alternate route along residential streets was actually a godsend this year, he added, because more shade was available for parade goers.

"We especially appreciate the residents who live along the route," Korpela added. "Everyone was very cooperative."

3. A last-minute call for volunteers ended up attracting more help prior to Fun Fest. Well over 100 people helped with various tasks throughout the weekend.

"It was not fun to work at this event this year because of the heat," he said. "But we only had one or two people who didn't show up when they were supposed to. We had enough volunteers and they did a tremendous job. They came through for us in the clutch."

As the Chamber begins to think about 2007, Korpela said the organization is planning to schedule community input sessions to gain ideas for improving Fun Fest in the future.

The Chamber intends to keep future Fun Fest weekends at Cyclone Park, with appropriate changes as determined. The parade will return to its normal route along Knowles Avenue next year, Korpela said.

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