The Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce has been talking to the city about helping to fund the canceled 2009 Columbus Rose Festival, but city officials and the festival's organizer said that would be a difficult challenge.

The Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce has been talking to the city about helping to fund the canceled 2009 Columbus Rose Festival, but city officials and the festival's organizer said that would be a difficult challenge.

Much of the festival's funding goes to pay for personnel and set-up and take-down costs, said Nancy Walsh, who has organized the festival for the city for the last 13 years.

"It's that. It's our people to do the advanced work that we won't have," she said. "And also the take down."

Chamber President Ernie Hartong said he contacted the city's Recreation and Parks Department last week after learning that the festival had been canceled.

At this point, Hartong said he is trying to get a handle on everything that goes into planning and executing the festival to see if the chamber can do anything to prevent the event from being canceled.

"We want to take a look at it to see what role we can play, if we can play a role," Hartong said.

The event is important to Clintonville's business community because of the high number of people it draws to the area.

"An event that size that brings 25,000 people to the community is extremely important to the community," Hartong said.

The event was canceled because of cuts to the recreation and parks 2009 budget that were outlined in the mayor's proposed budget.

Columbus City Council is expected to approve the budget in late January or early February.

The decision to cut the rose festival largely was the result of personnel cuts and the elimination of the recreation and park department's maintenance budget, said department spokeswoman Terri Leist.

"It's more of a staff issue for us than anything else," Leist said. "That event was essentially run through our maintenance division."

Leist said the department is willing to work with community groups to keep the festival going, but she said those groups would have to be willing to take complete control of the festival.

"It would all depend on what level they're able to step up," Leist said. "At this point, it is definitely canceled."

Walsh said the Columbus Rose Club still will host its annual rose show on June 13, with exhibition and judging of roses.

Despite the cancellation of the festival, Walsh encouraged people to visit the Park of Roses in mid-June, as the rose gardens would be in peak bloom.

"The flowers will still be blooming," she said. "It's still one of the most beautiful places to visit."

The Columbus Rose Festival has been held in the Park of Roses for 25 years.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com