Sumner Arts Festival committee cancels its plans for 2012, Puyallup/Sumner Chamber takes the reins

UPDATE: The Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce voted today to take over organizing duties for the Sumner Arts Festival. More as details develop.

Just shy of 40 years of operation, the Sumner Arts Festival will not take place under its traditional management in 2012. The festival committee voted not to hold the downtown bazaar in the coming August.

Every year, the Arts Festival used two days to turn the city's Historic Downtown sector into a tent city for vendors of fine art pieces, homemade crafts and craft furniture and food. It would typically host 100 booths generating sales tax, 20 of which were food, and it was a time of year downtown merchants would bring in brisk business, advertising volunteer Stuart Sheuerman said.

The decision to shutter does not preclude another organization from taking over the event's reins.

A variety of factors—such as a shrinking space allotment and poor traffic control in recent years—contributed to the decision, Sheuerman said, but the 2011 city passage of event fees was the haymaker.

"There were other things, but that (the events fees) was the final nail in the coffin," Sheuerman said.

In June, the City Council passed a resolution requiring organizers to pay a fee for events that require city resources, such as road closures and police patrol. Fees are $400, $600 or $1,200, depending on the total cost to the city in accommodating the particular event. The fees do not generate net revenue for the city, or totally recoup the city's costs: they operate as a fractional relief fund.

Still, organizers sent in 25 applications during the 30-day grace period to avoid the additional cost. The Arts Festival was not one of them.

The Sumner Arts Festival falls into the $1,200 class of events, a spot shared by Sumner's leg of the Daffodil Parade.

The Festival Committee considered a corporate sponsor but decided, even if a benefactor was available and willing, it would not solve space logistics problems. Issues like an occasional car mistakenly wandering into the festival's roadway created unsafe situations, Sheuerman said.

"I think that it's a shame," he said. "It's more than a shame. It's a festival that brought the city together, a real community event. Probably one of the best things in Sumner."

The organizing committee sent a letter to the City of Sumner last week explaining its intent to resign from hosting the Festival.

Mayor Dave Enslow responded Thursday night with a letter thanking the committee and festival for their years of dedication.

"Whether the festival continues under new volunteers or not, I want to thank you… for your time and dedication," Enslow wrote. "You created some magical moments in Sumner, and those, as they say, are priceless."

Enslow wrote that the city would share news of the closure with citizens to determine if anyone else was interested in shouldering the festival.


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