Pickerington Local School District Board or Education members last week gave a nod to allow the Violet Festival to return to the community in 2015 on the grounds of Toll Gate Elementary and Middle schools.

Pickerington Local School District Board or Education members last week gave a nod to allow the Violet Festival to return to the community in 2015 on the grounds of Toll Gate Elementary and Middle schools.

During the past several months, Violet Festival organizers and members of the Pickerington School Board's Grounds and Facilities Committee have been in talks to find a new home for the community event.

The discussions led to board members raising no objections Nov. 24 to a proposal to bring back the Violet Festival -- canceled in 2014 -- to two undeveloped parcels in front of Toll Gate Elementary and Middle schools along Refugee Road.

"This potentially could be a long-term site, but we're waiting to say that until we see how this year goes," said board member Lisa Reade, who also serves on the board's grounds and facilities committee. "Hopefully, it brings back a nice event to the community."

Organized by its own board of trustees, the Violet Festival had been held for 16 years in the heart of downtown Pickerington, including in Victory Park and on athletic fields at Ridgeview Junior High School.

The four-day event, which has featured carnival rides and live music performances from nationally-known acts, typically drew 30,000 to 40,000 visitors.

It was canceled in 2014 when the school board told organizers they could not use the Ridgeview fields after the 2013 festival caused $17,000 worth of damage to the sports fields.

Although the festival's board paid for repairs, an alternative site for the 2014 event couldn't be found in time.

No school board members objected to the plan to allow the festival to return in 2015 during their Nov. 24 meeting.

Reade and Board President Jim Brink both said they expect the 2015 festival will be held on a 2.9-acre parcel in front of Toll Gate Middle School at on the corner of Refugee and Toll Gate roads, as well as a 4.3-acre lot along Refugee that extends to the entrance to Toll Gate Elementary.

Reade said the sites are good fits for the festival for a number of reasons, including that the grounds currently aren't used for school activities.

She also said they provide an alternative to secondary school sites that will be used for junior high and high school football, soccer, cross country and marching band activities as soon as Aug. 1.

According to the Violet Festival's website, the 2015 event is planned for July 29 through Aug. 1.

"(Toll Gate) is a good site that has nothing going on that week," Reade said.

"With school starting so early - (August) 13th - we can't have a lot of damage and then be back up to snuff."

Following the school board's discussion, Violet Festival Board members Allison Kuhn and Dustin Palmer said they were pleased that all signs point to the return of Violet Festival.

The two added that the Toll Gate sites are "more functional" than the previous location because the grounds are flatter.

In addition to facilitating the set up of rides and other festival offerings, they noted the topography should yield fewer flooding issues in the event of rain.

"This is the only event - aside from the July Fourth celebration - that Violet Township has, that Pickerington has," Kuhn said.

"It's a staple in the community.

"People missed it last year and want to see it return."

Pickerington Local School District Superintendent Valerie Browning-Thompson said the district will consult with legal counsel about how to proceed related to Violet Festival's desire to operate a beer garden at the event.

Reade said that although it's not required, the board likely will approve a resolution of support festival organizers can take to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control when they seek a liquor permit for the event.

"I believe from the school board's perspective, it's worked out," Reade said.

Palmer said the beer garden and more adult-oriented activities are expected to be located within the 2.9-acre lot at the Toll Gate schools, and a "drastically expanded" children's and family area will be set up on the 4.3-acre section.

"It's huge to bring this event back," Palmer said.

"It brings in people from outside the community to showcase Pickerington and Violet Township.

"Those people go to the local restaurants, they shop at our stores and stay at hotels here."

In updating the school board about the Violet Festival plans, Reade said the beer garden and many festival activities will be arranged to face the Toll Gate schools, in hopes of reducing the overflow of noise to neighboring homes.

She added that event organizers have maintained ongoing talks with the Violet Township Fire Department and Fairfield County Sheriff's Office to address security and other logistical issues.