Main Street director breaks down results of 2017 HarvestFest

Published 8:44 am Friday, October 27, 2017

Centre collaboration successful; poor power on Main Street adds cost

This year’s HarvestFest in downtown Danville was likely a break-even venture for the Heart of Danville, said Nick Wade, director of the Main Street program.

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The Heart encountered some additional, unexpected expense in putting on the festival. Most notably, the organization had to get a power generator to keep electricity flowing because the city power plugs along Main Street do not work well enough, he said.

“The power at Weisiger (Park) is perfect, because it was all updated … but there are power plugs at the base of all the trees downtown and that’s what we can’t plug in to,” Wade said. “The wiring is bad; most of them don’t work. You plug into it and it can blow a breaker because it’s not strong enough.”

Wade said the power situation could be rectified for future events if Danville is successful in landing a “streetscape” grant it’s seeking through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program.

Earlier this month, Danville re-applied for a streetscape grant to replace all sidewalks, curbs and lighting on both sides of Main Street between Second and Fourth streets. It originally applied for the project in September 2016, but was denied this June. City Manager Ron Scott said at the time he believed the denial was due to the fact that the city still had another streetscape grant in process, for the renovation of Main Street from Fourth to Fifth streets. If Danville is awarded the grant this time around, it would receive about $947,000 from the federal government and contribute nearly $237,000 of its own money toward the project as a match.

Wade said collaborating with Centre College on this year’s HarvestFest worked out really well.

“I have received some communications from Centre students that it’s one of the best events they’ve had downtown,” Wade said.

The festival occurred over a parents weekend at Centre; the college’s Student Activities Council was a sponsor and involved in getting people downtown for the event.

Wade said a member of the SAC “was very pleased with the event and the turnout from not only Centre students, but Centre parents.”

“She definitely thinks that there’s room to give more money, have a larger sponsorship from Centre next year,” he said.

“I think that was a good partnership,” said Valerie McMann, chair of the Heart’s board, who suggested the Heart could similarly try to promote an event during Centre homecoming.

Julie Nelson, a Heart board member and downtown business owner, said businesses saw a lot of activity the night of the HarvestFest.

“We had a lot of people, it seemed like, from out of town,” she said. “That Saturday, retail-wise, was good. … There was a lot of people in and out.”

Wade said the food vendors at the festival sold out; the art vendors had some trouble with wind and suggested that the festival might need to become a two-day event.

“If the art-vendor piece of it is something we want to continue, we need to look at it. We heard a lot of information that it needs to be two days, a day is not worthwhile (for art vendors),” Wade said. “… What is it that we want to do? Do we want to do something that’s more focused on music and beer and having fun downtown? Or do we want to kind of bring back the arts-fair feel from the Constitution Square Festival?”

The Heart’s Promotions Committee will be working on what direction to take the festival in next year. The next HarvestFest is currently planned for Sept. 22, 2018.