Brentwood Chamber of Commerce Cancels 2014 CornFest

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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.

In appreciation,

The CORNFEST Board &

Brentwood Chamber of Commerce Board


16 COMMENTS

  1. Won’t go back until its out of the giant dust bowl. Move it back downtown, make it a smaller more intimate event. Oh, and stop charging admission. It’s pretty simple!

  2. Why go to CornFest when I can have the same experience at a County Fair a week earlier? This is unfortunately a cheaper version and not as much fun. I support their efforts, but time to go back to basics.

  3. Just watching social media is a laugh. I guess no one wants to read why the event downtown will not work under its current model. Easy to criticize when you are not doing the work or have an understanding of the limitations. Instead of being part of the problem, work to become part of the solution. I applaud the Chambers efforts and hope it can come back in 2015 because the event is not as bad as everyone is claiming. Half the people complaining said they didn’t go so how can they say how bad it was?

    • Is this the same mayor that built the Taj Mahal downtown? I hear it’s sitting about half empty.

      • Red,

        If you didn’t know the local joke is, it’s referred to as the “Bob Mahal” and half empty just like his head! The guy couldn’t run a small business or keep his own home from being foreclosed on but he charmed enough uninformed voters into letting him play mayor. The voters must have overlooked his multiple failures for surely it would have been exposed in our little “home town newspaper” right? Oh wait, they don’t like to publish real news, it gets in the way of their ad space.

        • The only reason Bob gets elected is the people are Summerset are completely snowed by him. They don’t care how much debt he runs up, they won’t be around to pay for it.

  4. I’ve gone only twice. Won’t go back even if they do bring it back. Way too expensive, just like the crawdad festival they used to have in isleton. Charge to get in then charge more for everything inside. That one didn’t last either.

  5. I didn’t mind the location. Not sure why everyone was complaining. This does come down to the Brentwood City Council changing the layout of the downtown, I never thought about that.

  6. Move it to the Streets since Downtown wont work anymore. There are plenty events there every year and move the Fireworks to the 4th. Last time I went it was Downtown and I paid $10 to get in to watch an infomercial from all the vendors. And from people I know they hate the dirt field location, you spend $10 and get filthy. Make it more like the Garlic and Asparagus festival, have vendors with interesting corn products to eat. I remember the 1st time I heard about the Cornfest I was so excited to eat all kinds of corn related foods. I get there and they have corn on the cob and pop corn. Its the same corn I can get at Safeway for a lot cheaper and its from the same farmers. Also we have a lot of fitness people here so have a 5K or 10K fun run on Saturday morning.
    There is not going to be a solution to make everyone happy but there are lots of things to do to make it better.

    • I was thinking the same thing with regards to The Streets of Brentwood. Retailers can benefit and less dust. I know a lot is involved with planning and although I’ve never attended the festival, I know people who have worked hard to see it happen. So thank you to those of you who have done so. I’ve not attended either because we were out of town, it was too hot, or we were on a budget. Maybe we could reduce the admission fee or delete it all together; this way more money would be spent on fun, food and spirits. It’s a corn festival, let’s eat more than corn on the cob and popcorn. Just sayin.

  7. You guys are just plain mean and rude.It must be nice to be perfect.Then again you must be in the minority since the guy got voted in by a majority.

    • ECV’s”Bother”

      You proved your hypocrisy again. I see you trying your best to put lipstick on a turkey.

      Based on the majority of your posts here you embellish weak leadership. Bob Taylor really? It’s no wonder that it makes you feel smarter.

      What a rube!

  8. Really? This is so much bull, they should have never built that huge building on the first place, not only did they force the library to shink in size, they took away the place corn fest was always held! This is disgracful not only to the people who grew up going to corn fest and haveing fun IN TOWN at THEIR park, they bulldozed and moved it out of town into a giant dust bowl!!! So when peopke ask why, its all abojt greed. Smh, im truly sorry for the generations who dont get to participate in the joy of corn fest they know who to point the fingure at.

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