After losing money the past two years, the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce has cancelled its Brentwood CornFest until further notice.
In a Letter sent out by the Chamber on November 19, they explained the reasoning behind their decision to cancel an event that has been an annual tradition in Brentwood since 1991. The decision ultimately came down to money, time and the ability to distribute funding for non-profits.
It was reported back in early September that the event lost $35,000 and attendance was down over 40%.
According to Ken Seamann, president of the chamber’s board of directors, he confirmed that once they added up the receipts that event lost nearly $40,000.
“When we lose $40,000 in an event, you have to ask why are we doing this?” said Seamann. “There is an attitude of the board from going away from this. Most people don’t understand this is a major fundraiser.”
The purpose of the three day event is to raise money for local non-profits and split the proceeds. With a loss, non-profits worked three days and received no funding from the event.
When asked why the announcement came so early on the cancellation, Seamann pointed out that planning would have already started and plans would have been discussed with partners. He states it was better to be straight forward and upfront with the community.
In fact, Seamann states that he and Dirk Zeigler put in well over 800 hours into planning the event while noting that less than half the Chamber Board participates in Planning.
The location is the major hot topic with the event. Many folks appear set on trying to move the event back to downtown Brentwood to help aid with the heat and dust of the current location on Brentwood Blvd. and Technology Way.
“There are a lot of ideas being thrown around that some people know won’t work,” said Seamann. “We have a lot of subgroups with brilliant ideas and criticisms, let them come together and put together a plan. It’s time to let them put their money and time on the line.”
Seamann explained that the logistics for a CornFest downtown Brentwood doesn’t work because the logistics of downtown Brentwood have changed significantly from years past. Rules prevented the Chamber from having the event downtown last year.
“At the time we started planning CornFest last year, there was no way to know if we could use downtown because the park was under warranty, irrigation was not working, lots of liability, with 2nd Street they have health and fire code with widths on the median, it eliminates a lot of vendors where we depend on the revenue,” explained Seamann.
He also noted that the fireworks were in a fall zone with solar panels. You also had the large City Hall building that takes up a lot of space which wasn’t there in past years. The layout also means they would lose half their vendors which is money they rely on to help put on the event.
“It’s going to take some concerted effort and time to do all the planning and get real numbers with it,” said Seamann. “We have had a lot comments to go back to what it was in the 90s, but in the90’s they were not making any money and the chamber was putting more money.”
For now the Chamber will begin collecting ideas on future events and suggests that if anyone has an idea to bring it forward while including a plan so they can evaluate it.
“The last thing I wanted to see was CornFest go away as I’ve been involved with it for to many years,” said Seamann.
Below is a copy of the Chamber of Commerce Letter cancelling the 2014 event.
November 19, 2013
Dear Extended family of Brentwood residents,
CORNFEST is an event that is distinctly Brentwood. It was designed to be family friendly, providing fun for all – an experience to showcase the community that our residents love and appreciate.
Biting into crisp, succulent corn, fresh from our local farms,…watching our children or grandchildren petting the animals & competing in the tractor races,…learning about local businesses & City updates,…listening to favorite live music,…oohing & aahing over the magnificent fireworks display…Always something for everyone.
One key goal is to raise funds to be distributed to a variety of community groups who make this City such a wonderful place to live. The lifeblood of our community is composed of groups like these, people who lift others up, provide purpose and build character. We applaud them.
The CORNFEST is a non-profit event, relying on volunteers who contribute endless hours of effort to bring it to fruition. Many folks do not realize the amount of advance work needed to make CORNFEST happen. Planning starts the year before. In December, work begins in earnest for an event the following July. The heavy lifting starts 4 months prior, continuing up and through the event. Afterward; the analysis. Costs are totaled, income is tallied; when all dollars are accounted for, a determination is made.
In order to distribute money to local organizations, CORNFEST must bring in more money than the costs to put on the event. This year, that did not happen. In fact, this is the 2nd year in the last 4 years where expenses exceeded income.
After careful consideration and agonizing dialogue, the CONFEST board has determined that there will be no CORNFEST in Brentwood for 2014.
A flurry of words, emotions, ideas and criticisms have flown about. It is nice to know that many people have a strong affinity for this community event. For those folks, we would simply encourage them to carefully consider how a 2015 CORNFEST could be made successful. A cautionary note: Criticism is of no value without a meaningful solution.
To everyone who has contributed to making each & every past CORNFEST happen, we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. You are our heroes.
The CORNFEST Board &
Brentwood Chamber of Commerce Board