First, it was $4 gasoline that threatened Indiana's many local festivals. Now, it's the overall economy. Some communities are rethinking things:
The lingering recession is forcing the organizers of some of Indiana's festivals to scale back their events or move them to more affordable venues before the state's festival season gets under way.
To hold down costs, Tippecanoe County's LayFlats Arts & Music Festival will have only a single stage during its September run, instead of the multiple stages used in past years.
The music festival is also being moved from the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater to West Lafayette's Tapawingo Park, which is less expensive to rent.
LayFlats promoter Johnny Klemme said the move will bring the festival closer to its fans.
Consider that last comment -- "closer to its fans." As in, perhaps it had gotten too big, and the recession just helps them realize that? Many of Indiana's festivals -- maybe even most -- have gone way beyond the community-building celebrations they were intended to be. They've become just another party to go to, their growth justified by their existence. Attendance was off 5 percent last year! How do we fix it?! And just the mere mention that a festival might have "economic development" implications is enough to gurantee that a festival will go on longer and spread out to cover a lot more ground. And no local restaurant will be able to afford the fees required of food vendors, who will sell food many people can't afford to buy.
If there were ever a time when we need to be reminded of the importance of community, it's during a severe economic downturn. Maybe some of these "back to the roots" festivals can help.