Another day, another development in the saga of the community celebration that won't give up: The Festival of Eugene has moved to Alton Baker Park??...??maybe.
Organizer Krysta Albert said she feared the festival was doomed after she met Tuesday morning with owners of property in the area where the event was slated to be held on the downtown block bound by Oak and Park streets between Sixth and Fifth avenues.
Albert said the owner of part of that parcel, whom she declined to name, informed her that he would not endorse the event unless she agreed to purchase a $5 million insurance policy at a cost of around $6,000.
Representatives from the adjacent Inn at the 5th hotel also rescinded their support of the festival, she said.
Tom Connor, part owner of the northern half of the downtown block, said he and Inn at the 5th representatives told Albert that the Aug. 22-23 festival simply could not be held at that locale.
"It was a myriad of things," Connor said of property owners' concerns. "There were issues of hiring security, hiring police? ... ?it was just too big a task and not enough time."
Casey Barrett, a spokesman for Inn at the 5th, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Part of the downtown block where the festival was to be held is owned by Lane County, which had agreed to provide access to its acreage at no charge. But Albert said she felt a half-block was too small a space to stage the festival.
She said she was dismayed by Tuesday's turn of events until she hit upon the idea of moving the festival -- intended as an impromptu substitute for the canceled Eugene Celebration -- to Alton Baker Park.
She said she contacted city of Eugene parks officials and learned the dates were available.
With a lowering of anticipated expenses -- because police costs of $4,400 won't be needed at the city park -- organizers are now about $3,000 away from reaching their revised fundraising goal of $15,000 so that the festival can proceed, Albert said.
Donations still are being sought at the festival's website, festivalofeugene.com , where more than 70 people already have contributed.
"That's how this festival is happening," said Albert, referencing the dozens of people who have pitched in.
Debbie Moulton, a city parks representative, said Albert is "very lucky" that Alton Baker Park still was available for rent on the festival's scheduled two-day run. But while Albert has submitted an application, final authorization won't be granted until she pays the necessary rental fee and submits proof of insurance and a site plan, Moulton said. "It's on the calendar, but the permit has not (yet) been approved," Moulton said.
Albert is owner of the Health and Wellness Celebration, which for years has been held in conjunction with the Eugene Celebration. She said many celebration vendors are self-contained, with their own electrical power sources, and should be able to make the transition to Alton Baker Park with little difficulty.
Regardless of the Festival of Eugene's ultimate fate, a Eugene Celebration parade still is slated to be held the morning of Aug. 23, organized by Kesey Enterprises and others. Kesey Enterprises, a for-profit company that exclusively produced the Eugene Celebration for the first time last year, announced in June that it was scrubbing this year's celebration.
Albert said she's not unhappy that the Festival of Eugene won't be taking place downtown, the Eugene Celebration's traditional venue.
"I think it's quite apropos that the Festival of Eugene will be taking place in a Eugene city park," she said.
Connor, the downtown property owner, endorsed the new locale and said he hopes Albert can make her vision come true there.
"We wish her all the best," he said.
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