Genoa Town Board votes to charge businesses for booths
Genoa businesses who rent space to crafters for Candy Dance will have to pay a portion of the event’s costs, members of the Genoa Town Board decided Tuesday.
Town Manager Mike Brown said that of the 403 booths in Genoa for the annual craft fair, only 289 were sanctioned by the town. Another 55 were located on Antiques Plus property south of the Genoa Post Office. Others were scattered throughout the town.
Booth fees are the major source of revenue for the town during Candy Dance and range from $260 to $400 a booth.
From those fees, the town must pay for trash collection, portable toilets, security and traffic control, which hurts the town’s bottom line.
“We are required to provide trash and sanitation facilities that private vendors are not required to provide,” Brown said. “Those private booths are competing with the town for dollars we use to maintain the roads, provide snow removal and pay the town staff. We are attempting to be fair. The private side of the fair is continuing to grow.”
The Candy Dance Craft Fair is responsible for 80 percent of the town’s revenue, Brown said. Begun in the 1970s, the craft fair has expanded over the years to take over the entire town during the weekend of Candy Dance. Proceeds from the sale of candy and the annual Saturday night dance contribute much smaller amounts to the town’s coffers.
“Looking to the future two or three more years, I project 40 percent of the craft fair will be private booths,” Brown told board members. “I’m not saying that is a bad thing.”
Brown proposed the businesses pay their share of the cost of putting on the Candy Dance Fair. He proposed taking the bills the town receives for services, dividing that amount by the number of booths and then billing the individual businesses based on the number of booths they have.
Genoa Country Store operator Gail Dellavedova said she didn’t feel the method used to determine the amount was fair.
She pointed out that not all the people coming to Candy Dance were necessarily visiting her booths. Dellavedova said she has already arranged for four crafters to come next year.
“I can’t go back to those crafters and ask for more money,” she said. “I will have to pay it out of my pocket. It seems small businesses keep being asked for more money. I’m just tired of being nickeled and dimed to death.”
Brown estimated the cost per booth from the last Candy Dance would be $88 apiece. Since the bills don’t come in until after the event, business owners would not know ahead of time how much their cost would be.
Town Board Chairman Bill Donohoe said he felt it was important the town implemented the policy.
“We are expending public money for a private business,” he said. “If we decided to shut down Candy Dance, there wouldn’t be a craft fair.”
Town resident Bill Brooks urged board members to get county commissioners to back them up. He pointed out that if the town became insolvent due to the failure of Candy Dance, the county would have to take on the town’s responsibilities.
Town Board member Nancy Miluck said she feared the county would abandon the town to its own devices.
“We should recover these costs,” she said in making the motion for the new policy.
Donohoe seconded the motion and it was approved by all five members.
In a related matter, board members voted to try and recover costs from Williams, whose Peddler’s Fair coincides with Candy Dance.
Because Williams provides parking and other services to her crafters under a festival permit, her costs will be lower, Brown said.
Brown and Miluck attended the Dec. 1 commissioners’ meeting in an effort to delay their approval of Williams permit until the policy was in place. Brown said commissioners went ahead and approved the permit after Williams wouldn’t accept a continuance.
Williams hosts 55 craft booths over Candy Dance and Brown estimated those booths cost the town $57.51 apiece.
Candy Dance by the numbers
Booth fees: $143,030
Candy sales: $47,970.65
Dinner & Dance: $12,053.47
Total revenue: $246,149.81*
Total expenses: $106,249.68
*Includes other revenues.