Flossmoor’s Future, the organization behind the Hidden Gem Half-Marathon and Bike the Gem, may be running a new festival this June in partnership with the village, but both parties still need to sort out some details — monetary commitments among them — before that can happen.
Trustees had plenty of outstanding questions after an hour-long public discussion on the matter held Tuesday, Jan. 18, during a meeting of the Flossmoor Village Board. Tom Dobrez, president of Flossmoor’s Future, laid out plans for the festival, but the village’s financial commitment to the event quickly became the main topic of discussion.
Dobrez said he thinks the village should be supporting the festival to the tune of $30,000, but trustees had questions. Topping them was whether or not they are interested for that kind of money and what the true cost may be after providing police, fire and public works support.
“I like the idea,” Trustee James Mitros said. “I think it’s a great idea, and you guys have done a great job with the Gem. I worry about the $30,000. … The $30,000 plus those man hours, we’re getting close to a Flossmoor Fest.
“I’d also like to know where the money is coming from. I’m all in favor of a party and I like the idea, but realistically we have to figure out what it’s going to cost us.”
Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said they are not far enough along in planning to know exactly what sort of resources the village would need to contribute. But she pulled Flossmoor Fest data from a few years ago, when overtime costs for staff were close to $15,000.
The idea is for a festival on June 4, 2022 — or 6-04-22, which reflects Flossmoor’s zip code — at Leavitt Park following this year’s Bike the Gem. It would include “high-end” entertainment in the form of three tribute bands, food trucks along with local restaurants, beer and wine sales, ways to spotlight the village in a variety of ways and last the entire day, according to Dobrez. He said the fest could be “spectacular” with the proper funding and staff support.
“We put together a concept to make this a once-in-a-thousand-years event that offers us an opportunity to truly celebrate all that is Flossmoor,” Dobrez said. “This is a large undertaking that would be very difficult for our organization to handle completely. At the same time, there would be significant advantages and benefits for the village. We’re more or less looking for a joint venture here, a public-private partnership, in pulling off this day.”
Despite a board document referring to the village’s monetary contribution as a “sponsorship,” Wachtel said the event, if approved, would be considered a “village event.” Flossmoor would be entering into an agreement with Flossmoor’s Future to have the organization manage the fest, Wachtel clarified on Wednesday, Jan. 26.
“That’s what we’re entertaining,” Wachtel said. “As a village event, we will end up absorbing our police, fire and public works expenses, and we’ll be looking to essentially contract with Flossmoor’s Future at a cost of $20,000.”
Such an arrangement would not be completely new for the village, which did something similar with Brew Fest a few years ago, Wachtel explained. In this case, the village was entertaining the idea of a Zip Code Day party, and Flossmoor’s Future decided to move Bike the Gem to the day of the celebration and asked about managing the event, Wachtel explained. That idea guarantees an audience is there for the event and more, she said.
“Tom and his team do a great job with the Gem,” Wachtel said. “I certainly expect that they’ll do a great job with this, too.”
Flossmoor’s Future would handle vendor contracts and marketing of the event, Dobrez said. He estimates the entire event is to cost $55,000 to $60,000 to produce, with other funding coming from VIP ticket sales, sponsors, beer, merchandise and vendors.
Dobrez suggested that other than VIP sales the event would be free to attendees. Attendance is being estimated at 2,500 to 3,000 people. Mitros asked if they could charge a fee for basic entry to recoup some costs, but Dobrez said that adds the requirement for fencing and comes with its own costs.
“There’s got to be some way that we could make some dough on it to help out with the expenses a bit,” Mitros said.
Trustee Joni Bradley-Scott questioned if the Village might be on the line for more money should funding challenges arise for the festival, what would happen in the event of a weather cancelation and the similarities between the Zip Code Day party and Flossmoor Fest, with the latter “right around the corner.”
Dobrez said Flossmoor’s Future has no intention of asking the village for more money. He said a weather cancellation would mean the loss of some deposits, but he has no intention of canceling if it can be avoided.
“It would take a pretty disastrous weather scenario to kibosh this whole thing,” Dobrez said. “We are planning to pull this thing off almost rain or shine.”
But Trustee Gary Daggett said chances of rainfall in early June are actually “significant,” and Leavitt Park can become impassable if that happens.
“I love the idea of the event,” Daggett said. “Everything about it I like. It’s just the location I’m having a hard time with.”
Trustee Rosalind Mustafa also questioned the suggested music lineup of Motown, Santana and Steely Dan tribute bands, suggesting organizers consider Flossmoor’s diversity when it comes to the food and music offerings.
“As with a lot of things, the devil is in the details,” Mustafa said, also asking what might attract older youths and young adults. “There are perspectives that I don’t hear are represented in the plan so far.”
Dobrez said his hope in including food trucks is that it can be an opportunity to broaden the selections. He is also hoping there might be a chance for arts and crafts vendors to offer some variety to the event, and he is considering a second small stage for young adults, though certain elements are pending funding.
While no formal action was taken regarding the event at the Jan. 18 meeting, Dobrez said it takes time to plan the festival right and he needs to get moving soon if they are going to do it.
“I can’t wait another month to begin planning this event,” Dobrez said. “Time is of the essence on this, and I want to do this properly.”
Mitros said he may be interested in the festival but wants to make sure the village understands the true costs of it before giving the green light.
“I think there’s a way to make this work,” Mitros said. “I just want to hear it.”
The Flossmoor Village Board next meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, though it is unknown whether the Zip Code Party will appear again on that agenda as of press time.