Lest we forget…

In the most recent issue Bill Forhan, Publisher put a spotlight on what has been brewing with the current Mayor and City Council regarding the cities revenues and what organizations and their events really contribute. It appears that they have no real knowledge what Leavenworth is…it is tourist town and that produces the revenue that goes into the city coffers. Why would you want to upset many of the events by dictating to organizations on your rules and the way you want the event to look and feel. In my opinion if government gets involved you can be assured the events will just continue to go down in attendance and the people that suffer the most are those folks that have given their time and hard work to produce a great event for our tourists not to mention local businesses.
Bill Forhan is correct that the contribution of $35,000 is not enough for ALFA. For years my wife and I spent hours working for Autumn Leaf Festival and spending our own funds to go to the many festivals and to walk with that float. Like so many we did this because we believe in Leavenworth and were happy to promote it to literally hundreds of thousands of people. Today that tradition of volunteers continues and the least the city can do is give them the funds they need to promote Leavenworth. This has been an ongoing request for as many years as I can remember.

The city does give funds to many events but not all of their funding is the same. For six years I held the International Dance Festival downtown but they only gave us limited funds for two years and said that is all that the event will get because the event has to be “self-sufficient”. They never understood that it was a FREE event for locals and tourists. We held the event for all those years and it was only because local businesses were happy to support the event financially.

It would seem to me the city should be happy and embrace those organizations that are willing to put their time and effort in producing events. This leads me into the vibes they are giving as to their desire to end Oktoberfest. Why would you want Oktoberfest to go away? This event is now over 20 years old, has brought thousands of tourists to this town and a huge amount of revenue. Yes, there were problems through the years but Projekt Bayern listened and has spent a great amount of money to solve those problems. For example, total monies spent on security, sheriff, free taxi service and state patrol in 2019 total $135,000. Projekt Bayern listened and addressed the problems through the years on many levels.

 I wonder what the 350-400 local employees are feeling on reading the news about Oktoberfest perhaps going away? The total paid to those employees in 2019 was $300,728. I heard one employee say to me… ”Christmas will not be the same if I can’t work at Oktoberfest!” The city indicates it was paid $50,000 per year for use of the parking lots and the agreement has come to an end and they have now signaled that they do not want to renegotiate the agreement but in turn indicate a desire to see this event go away. However, they received much more then this and the actual total in 2019 was $70,931. They have received other funds through the years and they seem to forget all about the help provided to the them by Projekt Bayern. Perhaps they need to do some real research on what has taken place over the last 20 years.

Four important areas will cease if Oktoberfest goes away…the huge tax revenue to the city, the revenue that all those local businesses and lodging receives; salaries to local employees and lastly all the monies Prokekt Bayern uses to fund various projects which many folks forget or do not realize. The list of projects that Projekt Bayern has funded is too long to list here…however, the total monies spent through the years is over $673,000 and $263,000 was monies used to fund city projects…like $22,000 for murals on the Festhalle, or Gazebo remodel of $115,000, another $164,00 for Lion’s Club Park bathrooms and to satisfy the city requirements Projekt Bayern stepped up and paid $65,000 for paintings on Cascade Medical Center!

This is the event you want to go away!

A quick thought on Christmas Lighting. During my tenure as Media Relations Director at the Leavenworth Chamber I was asked to MC Christmas Lighting and each year I was amazed at the crowds…but more than that was the feeling one felt from seeing the wonderment in the smallest child to that elderly couple seeing the lights once again. When the lighting was over the folks seemed to be so happy and they left with a smile on their face and couldn’t stop talking about the evening. Can there be any better reason to make sure Christmas Lighting continues?

Let’s continue with the many wonderful events that make this the “Bavarian Village” and the reason millions come each year to our small but wonderful town.

I agree with Mr Forhan that it is time Mayor Florea and Council members “Remember how we got here!”

Ken Kohnhorst, FLMI, AIAA, ACS



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