2007 Meijer Taylor Summer Festival: A Winner!

Taylor Mayor Cameron G. Priebe is pleased to announce that the 2007 Meijer Taylor Summer Festival was the most successful in city history.

The festival, held July 12-15, 2007, at Heritage Park, drew the largest crowd in the event’s history, covered all expenses for the second straight year and had a huge impact on the economy of the community.

The four-day estimated crowd of 350,000 surpassed any previous festival attendance in Taylor by tens of thousands of people. A Taylor police sergeant estimated that the crowd at about a quarter million people on Friday, July 13, which was the night of the region’s best fireworks display and free country concerts.

Thousands more bought tickets to attend classic rock concerts of REO Speedwagon and Kansas the evening of Saturday, July 14, and the family oriented afternoon performance by Disney act The Cheetah Girls on Sunday, July 15. Visitors from other states and Canada were among those in attendance both days.

“If Taylor is going to have a festival, we want to do it right,” Mayor Priebe said. “We had outstanding entertainment this year. Our fireworks were superb. The attendance was an indication of how popular this festival has become.”

Strong support from sponsors and an influx of volunteers helped the city reduce personnel costs and other expenses of the annual festival, which, just two years ago, operated in the red and was subsidized by about $125,000 in city tax dollars.

Joseph Nardone, executive director of the Taylor Department of Golf, Parks and Recreation, said his staff managed the event well and praised city businesses for their support.

Meijer continued as title sponsor of the festival. Masco Corporation – a Fortune 200 company whose world headquarters are located in Taylor – returned as title sponsor of the fireworks.

Fritz Enterprises Inc., a major regional recycling company with roots in Taylor, was welcomed by the city as a third major sponsor.

“Four generations of our family enjoyed the festival and the fireworks were spectacular,” said Irma and Leonard Fritz. “Congratulations to the City of Taylor for a job well done. We are looking forward to next year.”

In all, there were about two dozen sponsors, including Taylor mainstays National City Bank, Oakwood Heritage Hospital and Taylor Ford, which increased its sponsorship by 50 percent.

People who volunteered to work the festival – including many city employees and their families – helped reduce payroll costs associated with such a labor-intensive event.

Sue Bila, executive director of the Michigan Festivals and Events Association, said the average volunteer is worth more than $18 an hour to a festival.

“You couldn’t do one of those without volunteers,” Bila said. “Taylor would not have had this without volunteers. The entire state would not have a festival without volunteers.”

For the second year in a row, Taylor police, firefighters and volunteer Auxiliary Police received support from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, the Michigan State Police and the police departments of Allen Park and Southgate.

“We run a good, safe festival and work very hard to ensure the festival is financially self-supporting,” Nardone said. “State fairs, county fairs and some local fairs are all struggling to make ends meet. Our city festival did it again: we broke even.”

A festival of that magnitude had a significant impact on the local economy. Bila said the average person attending a festival spends about $20 in the local area – whether it is in ticket sales for a concert, dinner at a local restaurant or lodging at a nearby hotel.

According to Michigan Festival and Events Association standards, the 2007 Meijer Taylor Summer Festival had an estimated $7 million positive impact on the Taylor business community and the region.

“Festivals are all about family entertainment,” Bila said. “They’re meant to showcase the community. They’re meant to bring people back home. They’re meant to increase the business climate. They really provide an economic impact to the community.”

A survey of local businesses indicates this year’s festival had unparalleled success.

Two restaurant managers said the Friday night of the festival was their busiest night of the year.

“It would be our Super Bowl,” said Don Cameron, store manager of the Mancino’s restaurant at Northline and Pardee road near Heritage Park. “It was our big night. We prepare for that the whole week, actually starting on Wednesday. On Thursday, it started picking up all the way through Sunday. We really look forward to it big time. It was literally like we were giving something away.

“We didn’t have enough seats to accommodate all the people who wanted to eat in – and the rest had no problem getting their orders to go. I went to the fair and saw Mancino’s boxes all over the place. It was really cool.”

Many pizzerias count on Super Bowl Sunday to be their biggest event of the year. Not so at Jet’s Pizza at Pardee and Goddard roads.

“It was busier than the Super Bowl,” said Jet’s Manager Rick Hickman. There were a lot more walk-ins. It was like non-stop all day. I’m sure a lot of people were having parties. There were a lot of deliveries as well.”

Dennis Musial, in his ninth year as manager of Sax Discount Store at Wick and Pardee roads, called festival weekend “excellent.”

“The night of the fireworks is my biggest night in the summer time,” Musial said. Last year was crazy and this year was just as crazy. A lot of people are buying chips and pop and other items.”

Some asked if they could park in the Sax lot and walk the mile and a half to the park. Musial obliged and watched adults pulling children in wagons and pushing them in strollers.

“It was a real good evening,” he said. “We brought in extra help to take care of the people. We bring in all kinds of extra chips and pop and beer – all kinds of stuff. We can’t keep the coolers full enough. We had quite a night.

“I had the next day off. I was exhausted. I’m 53 and I felt like I was going on 80 after that night.”

Even businesses as far away as Eureka Road and Telegraph Road benefited from the festival.

Arkin Karana, manager of the family owned Cordial Shoppe party store on Telegraph, called July 13 “the best night we had so far in the summer.”

“I wish it was every day fireworks – that’s all I can tell you,” Karana said. “I double my business that day. We bring in a couple extra employees. We knew it was going to be busy, but we didn’t expect it to be that busy.”

Jimmy John’s, which opened in March on Eureka, is one of the newest businesses in the city. Assistant Manager Nathan MacDonald said sales spiked on fireworks night. Fortunately, the store was prepared with additional employees on duty.

“A lot of people called and ordered four and five different subs,” MacDonald said. “It was steady. We definitely did a lot more business that night. It was one of the most successful weekends since we opened.”

MacDonald and other business representatives said they see an increase during other major events in the city as well, including the Telegraph Tomorrow Classic Car Cruise, which took place last Saturday, and the Junior League World Series of baseball, which is set for August 12-18 at Heritage Park.

Nardone said the city is seeking sponsors for the next summer festival, scheduled for July 2008. For more information, call (734) 374-3906.