The Press Newspaper
The Stony Ridge Summer Festival and Flea Market would have celebrated its 40th year this July but the economy, torn up roads, state licensing mandates, lack of volunteers and past bad weather forced organizers to take a year off.
According to Karen Nicely, president of the Stony Ridge Civic Association, the group is currently discussing plans for next year.
“It really was a multitude of things that made us decide not to have the festival this year,” Nicely said. “We decided to take a year off, regroup, and maybe do something next year.”
The festival, which started in 1972, was the main fundraiser for the civic association. The event, held the last full weekend in July, included a flea market, a beer tent with nightly entertainment, family entertainment throughout the day, clowns, karaoke, and a chicken barbecue on Sunday.
Funds from the three day festival were used to help maintain Stony Ridge Park.
“We were able to, over the years and with some grants from the Wood County Parks District, put new playground equipment in the park,” Nicely said. “We also hold Halloween and Easter Parties every year with the funds. We will have those parties this year.”
The festivals have not brought in a lot of money over the last few years, Nicely said.
“In good years, we would bring in $10,000 to $15,000,” she said. “Last year, we barely brought in $5,000.”
Nicely attributed last year’s low total to bad weather and the local economy.
“On Thursday, last year, there was a tornado warning,” Nicely said. “It was so hot that weekend, hitting 95 degrees with high humidity. We always seem to have bad weather. The economy did not help. The economy has taken a dive, so has everything else right along with it. People just do not have the money to spend at festivals. There are a lot of small, local festivals that are also having problems because of the economy.”
The State of Ohio, five years ago, began requiring all vendors in the flea market to get a state license as well as report and pay state sales taxes, Nicely said, adding that contributed in the decline in funds raised.
Known as a Transient Vendor's License, applicants would have to pay $25 to apply for one.
“When the state got involved requiring all vendors to have a license in the flea market, we had to comply,” Nicely said. “Most of the vendors did have one but, the folks that were trying to get into the flea market, the local folks, did not want to get the license and then have to report sales tax. It really hurt the little guy who just wanted to try the flea market out. Folks in town could have garage sales without a license but people in the flea market had to have a vendors license.”
The condition of the streets in Stony Ridge are also a problem. Since the sewer system has been installed, the streets are still a mess, said Nicely.
“The whole town is tore up because the sewers went through,” she said. “The roads are a mess and have not been repaved yet. That would also have been a problem.”
Finally, the lack of active members and volunteers in the civic association was the final straw.
“We have a declining membership and the volunteerism is just not there,” Nicely said. “All of the local festivals struggle, financially and with volunteerism. Everyone wants to participate and no one wants to help.”
The civic association has 50 members, with 10 members being what Nicely describes as “active.” She is hoping more people join and volunteer.
“We have some funds so we can wait one year,” she said. “We are coming up with plans. Maybe we will make it a two day event, not three? We just need to get more people in the community involved. We want a successful event and we are trying to encourage the younger population to join. We want to hear their ideas as well.”
Maxine Haas, along with her husband Clarence, own Pee Wee’s Dari Snak and Haas Service Station in Stony Ridge. Maxine said she always looks forward to the festival
“ I ran the concession stand at the park for years,” Maxine said. This is really depressing to me. It was always such a big weekend for me.”
A member of the civic association, Maxine was hoping to celebrate PeeWee’s 48th season during the festival.
“I want to keep on doing the festival,” Maxine said. “People like to come to it, and we always had a huge crowd.”
The Stony Ridge Civic Association meets the third Thursday of every month beginning at 7 p.m., at the Troy Township Building in Stony Ridge. New members are encouraged to attend.
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