By SAMANTHA PIDDE
As discussion and planning continue for the 2022 Mayfest, the Mount Carroll City Council is looking into just what the city's role will be for the long-standing community event.
Mayfest organizer Brandon Ballard attended the Tuesday, Nov. 23, Mount Carroll City Council meeting held via Zoom to request the city consider increasing its usual donation to Mayfest from $5,000 to $7,000 and consider covering the insurance for the event.
City attorney Timothy Zollinger offered his opinion that the city's insurance would not cover Mayfest unless it was officially considered a "city event,” saying Ballard would need to look for his own liability insurance.
Ald. Joe Grim pointed out the Rotary Club is in charge of the beer tent and would provide its own insurance coverage, but Zollinger said he was unsure if the liability could be separated in that fashion.
Ballard said he was ready to move forward with Mayfest without the city covering the insurance, but he said the extra cost for insurance could impact what events appear at the Memorial Day Weekend festival.
Ballard took over planning the festival in late 2018, before Covid-19 forced the 2020 and 2021 Mayfests to be canceled. He told the council last week that he will coordinate Mayfest in 2022 and 2023, but will not continue being in charge of the festival after that.
With that in mind, the council discussed whether the city eventually must consider taking over Mayfest. Ald. Mike Risko voiced support in the city potentially sponsoring and taking "ownership" of the festival.
"If it's helping the community, why shouldn't we support it?" Risko said.
City Clerk Lisa Lewis expressed concern that she would be expected to take over organizing Mayfest, saying she has more than enough to do already. She indicated she would leave the clerk’s position before she would take on that commitment.
In previous years, the Mayfest Steering Committee, which coordinated Mayfest for more than three decades, as well as the Chamber of Commerce provided financial support for the event, including insurance costs.
Ald. Nancy Bandemer asked why the Chamber "dropped" the event and Ald. Jeff Elliott said organizers and the Chamber lost money on Mayfest every year. He added that when the long-time Mayfest Steering Committee organizers decided to retire, the Chamber decided to do so as well.
The possibility of other community organizations taking over Mayfest was discussed, with Ald. Grim and Mayor Carl Bates noting the city has two years to look into the matter.
Mayor Bates suggested that instead of simply increasing the donation to $7,000, the city increase it to $8,000. He asked Ballard if that extra $1,000 would help with the extra insurance cost.
"It helps immensely," Ballard said.
The mayor suggested the council continue looking into the city's role in Mayfest, saying they could talk to the city's insurance provider for future Mayfest events.
"We feel very strongly to support the event," Bates said.
The council unanimously approved a motion to donate $8,000 to the 2022 Mayfest celebration.