The Lazy Daze of Summer festival, Grandview’s long-running celebration of the arts, has been canceled for 2017 – but organizers haven’t ruled out a 2018 return.

The Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Arts Council board decided late last year to postpone this year’s arts and craft festival, said Susan Azzano-Kukla, the council’s new president.

But with the traditional date for the festival about a month away, the reality of the event’s cancellation is beginning to hit home.

“People have been asking us when Lazy Daze is going to be held this year,” Azzano-Kukla said. “A lot of people seem disappointed when they find out it’s canceled, but those are people who like to come to the festival anyway.”

It’s uncertain whether the cancellation is permanent or if the festival will return next year, she said.

One person left disappointed about the festival’s cancellation is Ruthanne James, who stepped down at the end of last year as arts council president.

“Lazy Daze is such a wonderful tradition in Grandview. I really hate to see that it’s not going to be held this year,” she said. “I know a lot of people are disappointed and have expressed that to me. I just hope it can come back next year. People I’ve talked to tell me they’re hoping it will be back next year.”

After the board’s decision to cancel the 2017 event, “we notified the city, parks and recreation and the library and we emailed all the vendors we’ve worked with over the last few years,” Azzano-Kukla said. “We didn’t really advertise (the decision),” in part because of technical issues that arose with the arts council’s website, she said.

The Lazy Daze festival dates back to 1994. The event originally was coordinated by the library and the city of Grandview Heights. In 2005, the arts council was formed to take over planning of the festival, with assistance from the library and city.

Over the past few years, the number of volunteers working at the festival has declined, Azzano-Kukla said.

“It takes a lot of time, about seven months, to plan Lazy Daze, then a lot of work on the day of the festival to put it on,” she said. “It was just getting harder to do.”

Last year, local Boy Scouts helped vendors unload in the morning and tear down the festival site at the day’s end, “so it got a little better last year,” Azzano-Kukla said.

There were usually enough volunteers to get the needed work done, James said, but the decline in sponsors perhaps has been even more difficult for the festival.

“Our number of sponsors are down, but that’s true for the (Tour de Grandview) bike race and its true for other events. It’s the sign of the times,” she said.

Attendance also has been declining, Azzano-Kukla said.

Part of that has been what seems to be a glut of similar events in central Ohio, she said.

“Everybody seems to have an arts festival these days,” Azzano-Kukla said. “We can draw our local residents, but how many times can you expect people to go view jewelry or pottery?”

Another issue may have impacted attendance last year.

“It was really, really hot last year, and I think that kept some people away,” said Canaan Faulkner, public relations manager for the Grandview Heights Public Library.

“When we’re freezing during the winter in Ohio, we can forget just how hot it gets during the summer,” he said.

“We’re going to miss hosting Lazy Daze this year, but we continue to enjoy a great relationship with the arts council and look forward to seeing in what direction their future activities go,” Faulkner said.

The arts council continues to sponsor the monthly art exhibits at the library, coordinated by James.

“They really come up with some fabulous exhibits,” Faulkner said. “They’re just a great addition to our library, especially in the expanded space we have in the reference department. The exhibition pieces just seem to pop out.”

In recent months, the council has been organizing field trips to area museums, Azzano-Kukla said, including visits to the Shakespeare in Prague exhibition at the Columbus Museum of Art and Bijourx Parisiens, an exhibition of French jewelry from the 17th through mid-20th centuries at the Taft Museum in Cincinnati.

“We’re looking to do more of those kind of trips,” she said. “We’re not quite yet at the point of being able to post something that says, ‘buy tickets here,’ but we’re working on it.”

The council has created a brochure to solicit new members, Azzano-Kukla said.

“We remain convinced about the importance of promoting education and interest in the arts,” she said. “We’re looking at ways to expand that beyond the visual arts, to include music, dance and theater.”

The council will continue to offer scholarships each year to Grandview area high school seniors who plan an arts-related major in college, she said.

“Our endowment with the Columbus Foundation has gotten to the point where we have a lot of money set aside for our scholarship fund, so the fundraising aspect of Lazy Daze really isn’t needed right now,” Azzano-Kukla said.

At some point, the festival will need to return or new ideas for fundraising will be needed to keep the endowment at a healthy level, James said.

“You can’t rely on T-shirt sales forever,” she said.

It hasn’t been decided whether the postponement of the festival will become permanent, Azzano-Kukla said.

“What we want to do now is concentrate on increasing our membership,” she said. “We want to find out what people want us to do, whether they want Lazy Daze to continue and how they want us to spend our money.”

The festival might return next year in a revamped form, Azzano-Kukla said.

“It could be it needs to take a different shape from what it’s been in the past,” she said. “After 20 years, it’s a good time to re-evaluate things.”

“There’s been a lot of hard work put in to keep the festival going for more then 20 years,” James said. “It’s really a shame it’s not going to be held this year. I just hope we can find a way to have it return next year. I think a lot of people in the community feel the same way.”

afroman@thisweeknews.com
@ThisWeekAfroman