As of the end of the day Monday, the planned Festival of Eugene was still on, despite the loss of a major donor and other problems, one of its organizers said.
"Things are a bit up in the air ... but we should still be able to pull this off," said Max Williams, who is also co-founder of KLZS, an All Comedy radio station at 1450 AM.
Williams said that as of Monday morning it looked as if the Aug. 22-23 festival was a no-go because of new problems that had cropped up, including issues with the footprint for the planned festival.
Organizers had planned to set up their main music stage, some vendor booths, a food court and some band parking on the county-owned half-block along Sixth Avenue between Oak and Pearl streets. The rest of the festival is to take place on the privately owned northern half of the same block and along a small section of Fifth Avenue.
Williams said one property owner became nervous about legal liability and wanted festival organizers to take out a seven-figure insurance policy, which they couldn't afford. At that point, Williams said, he thought the festival was dead.
But event producer Krysta Albert, a local wedding planner, reconfigured the plans to shrink the festival, Williams said, removing the property in question. That also had the advantage of shrinking the operational budget, from about $21,000 to about $15,000, Williams said, easing the fundraising burden.
The proposed festival has had a bumpy ride since its impromptu inception in June. It was hastily planned to fill in for the annual Eugene Celebration, which was unexpectedly scrubbed, for at least this year, by Kesey Enterprises, the for-profit company that exclusively produced the event for the first time last year.
"This is the type of event you spend a year planning for," Williams said. "Krysta had about two months. What she's done is pretty amazing."
Kesey Enterprises, Lane Community College, the city and others have come forward to assure that the celebration's Saturday morning parade, and a Saturday evening concert at the Cuthbert Amphitheatre, will go forward. The celebration's Slug Queen festivities also are moving ahead.
Organizers have struggled to raise the money to stage the festival, which will be free to attend. Time was growing short -- Albert had said she needed to give Eugene police two weeks' notice if the festival was a go because of overtime pay requirements. That meant she needed to go ahead or pull the plug on Monday.
As of last week, the festival was still about $12,000 short of its fundraising goal. Organizers' optimism soared when, they said last Thursday, a local business person offered to put up $10,000 of the remaining $12,000.
Their jubiliation was short-lived, however. Less than 24 hours later, the deal had fallen through.
"When that opportunity fell through. I thought there was a high possibility the festival would have to be canceled," Williams said.
"But then, in the past three days, we've raised roughly $4,000 to $5,000," he said, much of it in small donations of $5, $10 or $20.
"That's pretty amazing." Williams said, "The outpouring of support the last few days has been really great."
The additional donations, plus the reduced operating budget, means that "at this point, we've still got an event," he said, adding that he is "really optimistic" that organizers can raise the few thousand dollars they still need to put on a "pretty bare-bones event."
So organizers will continue their fundraising, hoping to raise more than the bare minimum needed so that they can strive to put on a better-than-bare-bones festival, Williams said.
"It's really cool to be able to put on a free event like this," he said. "It would have been a real shame to have nothing on that weekend. At least as of now, we still have an event."
Williams said organizers haven't given up hope that, within the next week or so, one or more businesses "that have the same values we do" will step up to help underwrite the festival's costs.
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