GENESEO – With only 6 weeks to go until Summerfest, the Geneseo Merchants Association (GMA) announced that it will not be running the festival this year in light of new charges to street vendors implemented by the Village Board.
GMA took charge of the festival 2 years ago from the Welcome Center as attendance to the event continued to rise, but a Village requirement passed in 2012 demands that anyone who sets up a stand or kiosk on Main Street must buy $150 of insurance.
“We’re pushing for more mom and pop crafters,” said Angel Berry, owner of Empire Salon on Main Street and treasurer of GMA. “In past years there were lots of little stands selling custom items you can’t find anywhere else. Last year we had only two arts-related sellers, one guy who sold sunglasses and another who sold purses.”
GMA wants the event to be a sales opportunity for small, not-for-profit sellers who might not sell anything at any other time of the year. Many local wood carvers, custom jewelers, and painters are not widely known and the chance to set up on Main Street when it is crowded with tourists is a huge opportunity for publicity. However, no antler carver or face painter is going to sell $150 of merchandise, so most simply do not come at all.
This leaves local arts and crafts establishments, with stores who make decent profits, as the only sellers at Main Street festivals. This was the case at Autumnfest 2012, which the GMA organized.
It is now up to the Village to organize the sellers that do call and want to set up. The Village Board discussed at their meeting on Monday that they may pass the responsibility on to the Rotary Club, which has organized smaller park festivals in recent years.