The city of Dunkirk’s Festivals Committee, operating under the auspices of the Dunkirk Local Devel-opment Corporation, was formed to take over running the events which help draw people to the waterfront.
The first-year group has added a heritage festival to the list of events. It is set for a Sept. 7 Washington Park debut, after plans to hold it on Central Avenue were scrapped due to traffic and safety issues.
The event is scheduled on the same day as the village of Fredonia’s long-running Red, White and Blues Fest.
The festival was discussed Wednesday during what was supposed to be a meeting of the Common Council Economic Development Committee. With only one of the three committee members in attendance, committee chair and Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak was joined by Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala.
Councilmen Adelino Gonzalez and William J. Rivera are the other committee members but were unable to attend, although Rivera was hooked up by telephone.
Szukala, who resigned from the Festivals Committee, was concerned that plans have not been firmed up for the Heritage Festival.
“Like the other festivals in the past, we’re three weeks away from the event and at this point we don’t have any concrete yesses for people to come,” she began. “To me – it’s just me I get that – but those things make me very nervous, when you’re inviting the public to plan their day.”
Tim Gornikiewicz has been involved with the festivals since they began and said some 35 letters were sent, including to local clubs, and one vendor has committed.
Kiyak asked if he reached out to Tuscany in Fredonia.
“They might be interested, especially since they have that mobile cart,” she added. ” … I don’t know if it’s mobile enough to move but they’re already in the catering and that kind of business and I don’t think it’s a reach to ask them.”
Szukala said more could be done, citing information she has seen in event guides and newspapers.
“They put on a thing that says any interested vendors please contact this number, which is far more people than the 35 we sent this letter to. … I even see it on Craig’s List,” Szukala stated. “One was the Eden Corn Festival, they put a thing that said we’re in need of vendors, please contact development. I think you’re reaching a far more bigger base.”
Discussion turned to other electronic postings available before Szukala asked about bands. Told there were four, she asked about their time slots. Gornikiewicz said they would play 60 to 90 minutes and added five bands would be too many for the event.
Szukala then asked about alcohol at the event and was told the Festivals Committee would be selling beer and wine.
“The city is selling beer and what is the time frame for the beer?” she asked. “My concern is that it’s a residential area and we’ve had music there all day and tons of people. I think if you add alcohol, later in the day … we might be having some issues.”
Kiyak asked what the cutoff time should be.
“I think maybe 9 o’clock. My concern is school is back in session,” Szukala replied. “Children are put back to bed at their normal time, much different from the pier. … If I’m a mom living across the street, even if you cut off beer at 11, they’ll be there until midnight. I’m not speaking as a council person, I’m speaking as a mom.”
Gornikiewicz noted that people spend more later in the day but he was open to suggestions.
“You’ve got to understand that even though this is a city event this is a residential area,” Szukala replied.
Gornikiewicz said that is a concern and the music could be turned down but the Heritage Festival fits into the downtown setting across from the Historical Society Museum on Washington Avenue.
Kiyak suggested seeing how things go this year.
“If it turns out there are more complaints than not we can always move locations,” she added. “Down at the pier rather than having it in a residential area because of some of the things you said.”
Gornikiewicz said the original choice was on Central Avenue but traffic concerns prevented that and moving away from the pier would give it a different feel and look.
After further discussion Szukala said she wanted to go on record that alcohol sales should be ended earlier rather than later.
“I’ll leave it at that,” she added.
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