Candy Dance festivals receive reluctant approval |

Candy Dance festivals receive reluctant approval

No one went home empty-handed after Douglas County commissioners expressed disappointment that four festival permits for Candy Dance weekend came up for their approval instead of one.

The Town of Genoa, Antiques Plus, The White House and La Ferme each received approval of their separate permits. La Ferme's Gilles LaGourgue represented himself at the meeting. Attorney Judy Sheldrew represented Martha Williams and Phil Stoll's interests, while Genoa Town Board member Nancy Aten represented the town.

In addition to their approval on Thursday, county staff received instructions to work on a solution that results in a single festival permit for Candy Dance 2015.

The town's venerable fundraiser is coming up on its centennial in 2019 and is celebrating 40 years since the founding of its craft fair this year.

In its early years, Genoans would raise money by selling candy at a dance, often held in late November or December. That money went to install streetlights and then paid for electricity in the former Douglas County seat.

In the 1970s, a craft fair was introduced, raising money from booth space rentals. The current fair is juried and features handicrafts made by the sellers.

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And that is one of the points of contention between the businesses and the town.

"One of the major issues is that the town has a juried fair that has provided handmade and not buy-sell items, and that is an important part of our fair," Aten said. The businesses have refused to have their vendors go through a jurying process.

"You're asking the town to compromise on that," she said.

Sheldrew told commissioners she has sent three letters to the town, suggesting the parties could sit down and talk.

"My letters were not acknowledged," she said. "We're more than willing to sit down and talk to the town."

LaGourgue is the only one of the three who came under a previous festival permit. A spokeswoman said Candy Dance blocks access to LaGourgue's restaurant, and that he needs to have the festival to make up for his revenue losses.

Aten asked commissioners what would happen if another business sought a festival permit.

"What if a fourth person asks for a permit, do we grant that with the same argument?" Aten said. "Town is trying hard to create the cowboy event, what happens when someone asks you for a permit to function that very same weekend?"

Commissioner Nancy McDermid said she believed that the county would have to come up with the solution.

Commissioner Greg Lynn pointed out that part of the problem comes from the expectation that the town will generate the income it needs off of Candy Dance.

Commission Chairman Doug Johnson pointed out that it sounded like commissioners were leaning toward requiring an exclusive permit.

"Maybe people need to pay attention," he said.

Candy Dance is Sept. 27-28.

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