Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 25, 2014

Changes in store for FAIRfest 2014

By ANDY HALLMAN | Oct 04, 2013

The organizers of FAIRfest would like to make their event a yearly occurrence in town.

The four-day event from June 20-23 attracted 6,000 to 8,000 people, according to Erika Richards, FAIRfest’s public relations director. She said she hopes to attract 10,000 to 12,000 per year in the next three to five years.

Richards said FAIRfest was such a tremendous success that all of the bands that performed, of which there were 50, have expressed a desire to return to FAIRfest at some point in the future.

“The performers felt so welcome and well treated,” Richards said. “They loved the audience and the venue.”

She said the event went smoothly, but organizers still wants to make a few changes for next year. The most significant changes Richards wants are to extend the festivities from North Main Street to encompass Central Park and the square, as well as the addition of a beer tent.

She hopes to add a “youth stage” to feature young musical acts, preferably on the square. Richards has gotten in touch with band and vocal directors at high schools in southeast Iowa in hopes of finding students who would like to share their talents on stage.

Another idea she hopes to bring to fruition is a “kids’ corner” where children can play games, have their faces painted and even brush up on their guitar or drumming skills through music clinics. Richards said she wants a special place where parents can take their children, which was absent from FAIRfest this year.

Richards is negotiating with the Fairfield Farmers’ Market board to see if it would be willing to hold the market every day of FAIRfest. Richards said it would be a boon to both FAIRfest and the vendors at the market. She hopes to receive city council approval to have the farmers’ market vendors set up shop on the square.

One tweak in store for next year is that bands will probably play outside only after 5 p.m. Richards said the heat during the day kept some people away from this year’s festival.

FAIRfest featured performers inside the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, which gave attendees a chance to cool down in an air-conditioned building while still being entertained. Richards wants to continue the indoor concerts at the convention center and save the acts on the big stage for the evening. She also hopes the bands will be able to play a little later next year than this year.

The event will have vendors near the main stage, although Richards plans for them to be on Briggs Avenue instead of North Main Street as they were in 2013. She said she is sensitive to the concerns of downtown businesses whose parking spaces were blocked off this year and wants to avoid that next year.

Businesses on the square will be able to set up a booth for FAIRfest without paying a vendor fee, Richards said. Only outside vendors will be charged a vendor fee.

Richards is a member of a core group that organizes FAIRfest. The other members of the group are Richard Sarnat, James Moore and Roland Wells. The group has decided it wants to expand the musical selection for FAIRfest 2014 to include gospel music.

The gospel musical acts will likely perform on a Sunday morning and early afternoon, before the country music section of the concert begins. Richards said she is still looking for a local person to organize the gospel component of the concert.

Just as in 2013, the next FAIRfest will feature guest speakers on sustainability issues. Richards wants to foster public participation in finding a solution to environmental problems, rather than have the public passively listen to a lecture. Laura Tarnoff will be in charge of organizing that portion of FAIRfest.

In its inaugural year, FAIRfest operated on a budget of $80,000. Richards said some of the acts were booked months in advance, but the big push to get everything lined up didn’t happen until six weeks prior to the festival. She is pleased that she and the rest of the core group are already laying plans for FAIRfest 2014.

Volunteers who wish to be a part of FAIRfest may contact Richards at 641-233-1755 and at erika@lisco.com.

 

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