Town settles with merchant over Candy Dance squabble |

Town settles with merchant over Candy Dance squabble

by Christy Chalmers

Genoa antique dealer Martha Williams has won a settlement and vindication for what she calls “Gestapo methods” used in managing town events.

Williams, owner of Antiques Plus, said Monday the town’s insurance carrier agreed to a cash settlement after investigating an incident that brought sheriff’s deputies to Williams’ door during the Candy Dance.

The deputies were sent to see if Williams had obtained the proper permits for an arts and crafts fair she was holding during the Candy Dance, the annual September festival that draws as many as 30,000 people to Genoa and raises most of the town’s operating funds.

Williams said she’d been given permission to hold her fair prior to the event, but deputies still questioned her for 45 minutes while patrons and vendors watched.

She said she filed a complaint seeking action in Douglas District Court, though a check of the court files did not show one.

Williams wouldn’t disclose the amount paid through the settlement, but said it was “in the thousands.”

“It wasn’t big enough that I was laughing all the way to the bank, but it was enough that I felt I got their attention,” she said. “They know now they can’t treat people like this.”

Town office manager Alice Rogers said she and the town board members don’t know anything about the settlement.

“There’s nothing that’s come through here,” she said. “We have not been notified of anything.”

To prevent any similar situations, Williams said she’s obtained her own vending permits for the 2001 Candy Dance. Previously, the town obtained a permit and worked with merchants to stage the festival, with the unspoken agreement the businesses could operate special sales, said Williams, a veteran of 38 Candy Dances.

Williams said she’s offered to help organize the 2001 Candy Dance but won’t be donating proceeds from her sales to the town as she has in the past. Instead, the money will go to a wild horse preservation group.

She said she donated most of her settlement to the Genoa Sesquicentennial Committee, keeping only enough to cover expenses such as business lost during the incident.

“It wasn’t about the money. It was about the principle,” she said. “I just wanted to show I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I wouldn’t have prevailed if they were right.”