Meijer Taylor Summer Festival is a huge success

July 13, 2006

TAYLOR – The 2006 Meijer Taylor Summer Festival was not only an entertaining family event, it was a financial success as well.

The festival, held July 6-9 at Heritage Park, actually showed a small profit this year. Last year, the festival was operated by the City of Taylor at a net loss of nearly $126,000.

The keys to the turnaround were better management of the event, reducing expenses and increasing sponsorship, according to Joe Nardone, executive director of the Department of Golf, Parks and Recreation Department.

"It was very simple from a management standpoint: we planned and executed," Nardone said. "We looked at every item associated with the festival and we cut costs wherever possible, whether it was fencing, concert-related costs or overtime.

"My staff deserves a great deal of the credit for this successful event. They credited the efficient operation of the event to excellent advanced planning. They kept saying how relaxed they were as the event approached because we addressed every issue in advance. We managed everything that we had planned and executed without any significant difficulties."

The festival cost more than $350,000 to produce in 2005. This year, expenditures were reduced to $195,400.

Nardone said he received an edict from Mayor Cameron G. Priebe, whose administration has been seeking ways to save money and has been forced to make some difficult cuts.

"I credit Mayor Priebe and the City Council with the success of the Summer Festival," Nardone said. "I compare the Mayor to Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland. With great leadership and vision you change everything you’re doing pretty quickly. This was a great year for Taylor and the city’s taxpayers."

Nardone also gave significant credit to members of the Taylor City Council.

"They were instrumental in the success this year of the Summer Festival," he said. "In fact, some City Council members actually solicited donations for the event."

Nardone outlined some of the keys for the festival’s success:

-Sponsorship increased. Festival organizers retained major dependable sponsors Meijer and Masco, plus National City, Comcast, The News-Herald Newspapers, radio stations WCSX and WYCD, promoter Watts-Up and Wade Shows.

New sponsors for 2006 included Taylor Ford, McKinley Properties, SMART, Michigan CAT, Telegraph Chrysler Jeep, Area Towing, WOW, Rock Development LLC, Taylor Town Trade Center, Michigan Recycled Aggregates and Wade Trim Associates. In all, sponsor revenue increased by $24,500.

-Costs – especially payroll costs – were reduced significantly. In 2005, staffing cost $41,000; this year, it was down to $20,500 – a 50 percent savings.

In addition, members of the Taylor Governmental Management and Administrative Employees Association – and their family members – volunteered to work the festival, saving the city on payroll.

"We managed overtime, managed employees better, assigned responsibilities more efficiently and streamlined," Nardone said. "We had a great crew. We advised them to remember they were representing the City of Taylor. Our staff and volunteers committed to delivering a quality festival to the taxpayers."

-Police and Fire Department overtime costs dropped from $55,000 in 2005 to $30,700 this year – a $25,000 savings.

Assistance from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department saved on public safety costs. In addition to two deputies from the mounted division, there were 30 reserve members of the Sheriff’s Department patrolling the park and surrounding area. There was no cost to the city for the service.

Mayor Priebe thanked Sheriff Warren Evans for providing the officers, saying the police presence was "doubled" in the park and vicinity.

Troopers from the Michigan State Police also provided assistance, mainly with traffic on Telegraph Road and at major intersections at the end of the Friday night fireworks.

Jac Desrosiers, director of police services in Taylor, said that with the assistance of the outside agencies, "we cut down our hours during low-peak times and concentrated on having more people there for the fireworks. That saved us a substantial amount of money."

-The festival had help paying for specific new attractions. The Auto Alliance/Mazda of Flat Rock paid for Radio Disney’s appearance on Family Day. Budweiser sponsored the Dale Jr. Experience, a NASCAR exhibit.

-The cost of the concert entertainment was reduced by more than half, from $109,000 in 2005 to $50,000 this year.

-Officials from the City negotiated with the concert promoter to pass along costs that the City has absorbed in past years.

There were other facets that made the festival a success:

-It’s a great product. From the Downriver area’s best fireworks to concerts featuring big-name performers to an exciting carnival to a variety of special events, the Meijer Taylor Summer Festival proved to be a can’t-miss event. The Heritage Park crowd on Friday night alone was estimated at 100,000 with an estimated 250,000 people watching the fireworks from other locations.

-Excellent weather.

-Coan Lake in Heritage Park was cleaned up, an initiative of the new administration, which allowed the Taylor Fishing Derby to continue for the 18th year.

-The addition of Radio Disney enabled the festival to have its largest Family Day in history. The day was moved from Sunday to Saturday to reduce payroll costs.

-The members of the Taylor Police, Fire and Auxiliary Police Departments turned in an outstanding performance. Besides their presence in the park, they provided assistance to visitors, assisted with traffic matters and even saved the life of a 5-year-old Wyandotte boy who nearly drowned in a swimming pool on Clinton Street not far from the park.

-The Taylor Police Department Traffic Bureau, under the direction of Sgt. John Blair, worked with traffic engineers to develop and implement a program that required one-direction parking in specific neighborhoods. The concept helped fireworks traffic leave the vicinity quicker and received rave reviews from residents. The residents’ cooperation was nearly 100 percent.

"It was truly a team effort on everyone’s part," Desrosiers said. "The idea was to make the exit as painless as possible. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from people in a number of neighborhoods that were happy with the way the neighborhoods emptied out after the fireworks.

"We also had a lot of help from surrounding communities: Southgate, Allen Park, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department Reserves and the Michigan State Police all participated and assisted our own personnel and the volunteers in our outstanding Auxiliary Police Department."

Nardone said the festival was a success.

"Events are typically judged on the success of the event without money being a consideration," he said. "Not only did the city provide this wonderful event, but it was done in a cost-effective way that the residents of Taylor were spared additional costs."

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Contact: Mayor Cameron G. Priebe
(734) 374-1449
Or
Joe Nardone, Executive Director of Golf, Parks and Recreation
(734) 374-3906