The Festival of Eugene is up in the air again, less than 24 hours after organizers thought they had landed the major sponsor they needed to put on the festival.
With just four days left to raise the remaining $12,200 they needed to pay for the festival, the key organizers announced Thursday evening that an anonymous donor had pledged $10,000. "We are close enough to our funding needs to announce that the Festival of Eugene will be happening!" organizers announced in a jubilant email.
By mid-morning Friday, however, the jubilation had faded. The anonymous benefactor, a local business owner, had withdrawn, festival organizers said. "The only thing that was said to me via email was that it was too short notice," said event producer Krysta Albert.
The withdrawal of the sponsor was a heavy blow, she said. But, she quickly added, another potential sponsor has surfaced, a sponsor "that will blow Eugene away" if the deal comes through.
Albert, who is taking nothing for granted at this point, is continuing to raise funds in the meantime.
She was cheered to see that more than $3,200 in new donations came in Friday afternoon either by check or through the festival's page on gofundme.com, a crowd-funding site used to raise money from the public.
New donations included $500 apiece from Claim 52 Brewing, Sam Bond's Brewing, Friends & Neighbors Realty group, and the University of Oregon Cultural Forum, as well as an anonymous $1,000 donation. Previous large donors included Frontier Airlines and Eugene Airport, which said they would chip in $2,500; Ninkasi Brewing, which pledged $1,000, and Tap and Growler, which committed $500.
The festival, which is scheduled for Aug. 22-23, is intended to be a low-key and free alternative to the Eugene Celebration, which has been scrubbed by its organizer, at least for this year.
The annual parade will, however, still be held Aug. 23.
The festival would include music, dance, arts, crafts, food and drinks.
Albert said previously that, unless the festival's fundraising target of $21,000 is met by Tuesday, the festival will be called off and donations will be returned. This is because she needs to give police a minimum of two weeks notice, Albert said Friday.
At this point, the core group of a half-dozen "incredibly dedicated volunteers" is working all out in an attempt to collect enough money before the looming deadline, said Albert, a wedding planner who ran of the Health and Wellness Celebration, which ran alongside the Eugene Celebration.
In addition to donations, organizers have collected about $1,600 from venders who want to be part of the festival, Albert said Friday evening, and she's expecting another $500.
Her message now is to people interested in the festival, and it's a simple one: "If you want to come to this, you need to help pay for it."
The amount needed to put on the festival may seem daunting, she said, but lots of little donations, taken all together, can reach that goal.
"You can't get to $10 without $1," Albert said. "When I stand in line at the bank, I hand people my card and say, 'Can you give me a dollar, or better yet $5?' One woman opened her purse and handed me $20. I'm (contacting) people I know and saying, 'I know you know about this. I'm totally calling you out. Can you send me $20?'?"
"I am very, very hopeful."