Founders Days Organizers Call it Quits; Deed Event to City
They tackled historical context by changing the name from Cracker Day to Founders Days,.They survived a 42-page, $150,000 contract with the Beach Boys, but faced this year with choreographing a parade, a carnival, entertainment and fireworks, however, the Founders Days committee died of exhaustion.
On Tuesday, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency voted to reimburse the city’s parks and recreation department $45,550 for a portion of the 66th Annual Founders Days event, which he deeded to that department.
“The Founders Days committee has dissolved,” said City Manager Burgess Hanson. “Our hope is to find a suitable group to handle it in the future..”
It’s been 24 years since a group of volunteers saved Founders Days the first time. A Lions Club event organized as Cracker Day, the event originally was intended to raise funds to build Pioneer Park. What began as a chicken-and-rib barbecue, grew to involve 14 committees and six months of planning and then, the city included festivals in budget cuts. That has $40,000 left over from last year to organize this year’s Founders Days, not enough to make them confident of success. “We are not dissolved, we are incorporated,” explained vice president Pat Miller, now in her 23rd year with the 66-year-old event. “However we do not have the funding and nobody would step up and help us.”
Without funding, there was too much uncertainty.
“We always paid our bills (but) there are very little donations and a couple of years ago, we were talking about expenses of $100,000,’ she said. “You might have a great weekend and pay your bills and break even – but we’ve had weekends because we have closed down because (of the weather).”
In October, she said, the non-profit group of unpaid volunteers suggested to the city that it could use a little help, maybe from Kiwanis. Instead, she said, the city hired Large Marge Productions out of West Palm Beach. City Manager Burgess Hanson pointed out at the CRA meeting on Tuesday that the four-day festival and parade brings more than 80,000 people to the east side of town --precisely the kind of thing community redevelopment funds are earmarked to support.
Parks and recreation will organize it this year, he said, hoping to find a sponsoring group in the future.”
“…We can’t take on the responsibility of all that money and then have a rainy weekend.” explained Barbara Friend, a member of the Founders Days committee for more than two decades.