While Port Washington officials called a "successful" event for the city, not all was well with the weekend and council members hope for a discussion with the event organizers before approving the festival for 2013.
"We did incur a few ... problems," City Administrator Mark Grams said during Wednesday night's Common Council meeting. "One is, garbage. If you were downtown on early Monday morning you could see that there was literally garbage from parking lot to parking lot and street to street. … we ended up calling out the city crew, they had to go in there first thing in the morning …. It was not a pretty sight."
Grams said festival vendors also reported issues with security and electricity — the issue being a lack of both accomodations.
"(Festival organizers) indicated there was going to be a security firm down there watching … well we found out that weekend that there was no one hired, and vendors were told their security was to sleep in their tent at night," he said.
Electricty was also not available early Friday — the festival starts Friday afternoon — causing issues for food vendors needing to keep their products temperature contolled. Later Friday, an electrical contractor did show up, but, Grams said, "We've got to deal with (these issues) here before they approve anything next year."
These issues come after the Port Washington Common Council
In 2011, event organizers submitted a last-minute request for the festival to include live reptiles — something that ordinarily would violate an ordinance that bans live animals from all city festivals. Because it was last minute, it was not approved, and the live animal exhibit sat empty.
This year, the city again received the same last-minute request — but opted to allow the live reptile exhibit pending final approval by City Attorney Eric Eberhardt and Grams upon receipt of proper insurance and certification from the company.
The council approved the last-minute reptile request with two dissenting votes.
"I am a little upset because I was one of the ones trying to push this through last minute because they were late getting their approvals," Ald. David Larson said, "and I’m regretting that I did that. Next year, if they come last minute – I will not support them. … The vendors look at that as Port Washington … they don’t look at it as (the event organizer) … and we don’t want them avoiding us because they don’t (provide) the resources to be successful."
Ald. Doug Biggs agreed, saying he hopes for better planning or the festival will lose his support.
"Next year, as this comes along, (I don't want to) see this as a last minute issue and (want to) make sure this is planned properly.”
Mayor Tom Mlada said he visited the event one afternoon and was "amazed by the volume of people," in the the downtown area for the festival — and how great that is for local businesses. That being said, he agreed the festival issues needed to be addressed.
"I think the key is for us to not only do this, but frankly, to do this well," Mlada said. "I really commend Kim (the event's organizer) — I would say in my other life (in my experience with marketing) I could not fathom coordinating an event of this magnitude without a team of people. I think (this will be better) with some additional partnership … maybe opening the door to some thoughtful planning."
What did you think about Pirate Festival this year? Tell us in the comments.