Pickerington Times-Sun

Violet Festival

Move to Sycamore Park touted as route to diverse event

By MICHAEL HAYES
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Jason Heitmeyer of the Pickerington Violet Festival appeared before Pickerington City Council's Safety Committee Dec. 12 to provide details to city officials about the proposed move of the festival from Victory Park to Sycamore Park for 2013.

Heitmeyer said the moving the festival to the much larger Sycamore Park will create "more separation between adult and children's activities," thus allowing for a more well-rounded event that will appeal across a broader demographic.

He said bifurcating Violet Festival activities will help achieve the diversification of offerings.

He proposed putting the rides and food vendors at the western end of Sycamore Park where the public skate park is located.

Family activities such as puppet shows and arts and crafts would also be in the west end of the park and the installation of a secondary stage in the western area will allow for promotion of local community acts such as dance groups and small choirs, which, as it stands now, don't get any stage time because of space constraints.

"The amount of stage time on the Main Stage just doesn't exist anymore," Heitmeyer said.

He said the beer garden will be relegated to a sectioned area in the east side of Sycamore Park and would not disturb nearby residents.

"We wouldn't have to block off Park Alley," said Heitmeyer, adding organizers are also considering moving the annual car and motorcycle show to Sycamore Park, which would eliminate the need to close off Columbus Street on Saturday morning.

Heitmeyer said the move will also have the beneficial effect of generating more awareness about Sycamore Park, which he said is currently underutilized and unappreciated despite its numerous assets such as the arboretum and the Sunday night movie program.

"A lot of people don't know the true value that's down there," he said.

Heitmeyer said the Violet Festival will assist financially towards the cost of additional fences, restroom improvements, secondary drive access and other capital improvements in Sycamore Park.

He said the move will also allow the festival to continue to give back to the Pickerington area community by donating to such groups as the Pickerington Food Pantry, the Boy Scouts and the Pickerington Band Boosters.

"We've given back $25,000 in cash just in the last two years alone," Heitmeyer said.

He said a plan is in place to address parking issues.

The move will allow visitors to park at Pickerington Central High School whereas before, because the school was too far removed from Victory Park, it was not feasible to park there for the Violet Festival. Heitmeyer said other parking areas would include Ridgeview Junior High School, Victory Park, the practice football field and the old bus lot.

He said there would also be "shuttle system bringing people into a central drop point to Covered Bridge Lane."

Heitmeyer said the Violet Festival is willing to work with the residents of the adjacent Pickerington Hills subdivision to make the transition work.

He suggested placing a gate/guard at Hereford Drive to prevent parking in the neighborhood and said he would be willing to install additional parking gates, perhaps as many as three, if necessary.

"We want to make this a positive experience," he said, adding that "Muirfield does this for the Memorial Tournament."

He said if Pickerington Hills residents want to capitalize on the event and privately charge visitors for parking then he would support that.

"Those are things we'll work through with them."

Heitmeyer said plans also call for a secondary access point on the east side of Sycamore Park. He said the main stage will be situated on the south east end of the main soccer field near the secondary egress point, with the stage positioned to face outward northwest toward the arboretum and the covered bridge.

"There are not a lot of homes that are towards that northwest direction," Heitmeyer said.

He said the overarching goal behind the move is to bring residents and visitors together to show "Pickerington is a great place to live, work and do business."

Cmdr. Matt Delp of the Pickerington Police Department asked Heitmeyer if he was willing to change the date of the Violet Festival.

"Each year we have the Violet Festival at the end of July and we compete with (the) Lancaster Festival," Delp said.

Heitmeyer said it is under consideration, just not for 2013.

"We'll probably do that the following year," Heitmeyer said.

"Two transitions in the same year would add to more confusion," he said.

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