City trims funding to Hunter Ice FestivalPublished 12:36pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The city’s contribution to the Hunter Ice Festival will be $500 less for the 2013 event, which takes place Jan. 18-20.
Hunter Ice Festival visitors spend about $125,000 in downtown Niles over three days, according to Main Street DDA.
Visitors number 10,000 to 20,000, depending on the severity of winter weather.
“Last year, we were on ‘CNN Headline News,’” Main Street’s Lisa Croteau told Niles City Council Monday night while seeking a $2,500 contribution for the ninth annual event.
“We have gotten publicity from the Food Network. We’re hoping to have some of our carvers involved in a television show filming here. The press value alone, and the positive image this festival presents to the world, quite frankly, there’s not a carver around who hasn’t heard of it and is interested in being part of it. We’ve honed it to an approximate $30,000 festival. We have begged and borrowed every piece we can. Our carvers are magnificent and accept a fee for what they do here that is a fraction, typically 50 percent or less than what they make on other weekends. They get a $75 stipend per carving.”
“We’re working with carvers from Texas, Chicago and Ohio,” Croteau said. “It brings our festival to a level that brings people from Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and Toledo. We’ve done radio on Cleveland PBS.”
“This is extremely more expensive than $2,500,” Councilman Scott Clark said. “With people’s time — city employees and policemen — to me it looks like something in the $10,000 range. I’m kind of disappointed that, after all this time, you can’t make it on your own. Maybe you should consider instead of hiring the best ice sculptors in the country going with the best amateurs. Taxpayers can only help downtown so much. I don’t like telling some people yes and most everybody else no. If that can’t stand on its own, maybe it should be gone.”
Croteau said she is exploring a trip raffle with Niles-Buchanan Rotary Club, which could earn $20,000.
“The apple festival spends about $172,000,” Clark added, “and they pretty much took it in stride to not take any money. It’s not that I’m against the festival, but there has to be cost-cutting.”
Councilman David Mann suggested reducing the allocation to $2,000, which passed.