Pickerington Times-Sun

Violet Festival to stay in Victory Park this year

By MICHAEL HAYES
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With summer fast approaching, the logistics associated with moving Pickerington's Violet Festival from Victory Park to Sycamore Park by late July were becomingly increasingly daunting.

Thus, organizers for Pickerington's signature event have decided to stay put, at least for 2013.

The city's Parks and Recreation Board unanimously voted last Nov. 12 to approve moving the four-day festival from the smaller confines of Victory Park to the much more expansive Sycamore Park in hopes of increasing the "physical footprint" of the event as well as diversify entertainment offerings to include more family-friendly fare.

Pickerington City Council's Violet Festival Board Representative Chris Schweitzer officially announced at the Feb. 20 Safety Committee meeting that festival organizers have scuttled those plans, for now.

"It has become quite obvious that an attempt to move the (Violet) Festival this year would create too much of a strain on timing, resources and relationships at this time, and would certainly detract from the quality of Pickerington's premier summer event," said Schweitzer in a prepared statement.

Schweitzer acknowledged a move to Sycamore Park would allow the festival more space "and a better venue to showcase additional family activities, community groups and enhanced family entertainment," however, he went on to say there "is simply too much to be done in the small amount of time remaining before opening day in 2013."

The Violet Festival attracts an estimated 40,000 people for four days of music, food and rides each summer to Victory Park.

With its limited space, organizers have been unable to implement programming changes. The new location would have provided more space for a secondary stage and events such as puppet shows, a beauty pageant and dancing exhibitions.

However, the move to Sycamore Park would require additional parking, infrastructure improvements, and the construction of emergency access routes.

Schweitzer said festival organizers are planning to make the move in 2014 and they have expressed a desire to partner with the city of Pickerington to make that happen.

"We would appreciate the city's help in providing us a timetable and guidelines for a new submission so that we may work in an efficient and timely manner to revisit and prepare for such a move in 2014," he said.

Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance said 2014 "is much more realistic" for the move, as a site change this year is "not going to be possible from a local government and emergency services perspective."

Vance said any issues with moving the Violet Festival "need to be comprehensively addressed by December of 2013 so we know by the end of 2013 where the 2014 Violet Festival is going to be."

Schweitzer said what also complicated matters with the proposed move was that adequate marketing of the event needed to be conducted to reflect the site change.

"I'm also volunteering to help do marketing," Schweitzer said.

"We had a very aggressive marketing plan that we needed to have a decision on by March or April.

"There's no way that could be done," he said.

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