N’ville City Commission withdraws support for Fall Festival, show must go on

Published 4:36 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The front page of Sept. 15 edition of The Jessamine Journal reads, the “City Commission approves Fall Festival.” However, two hours after deadline the situation changed.

On Wednesday evening, the Jessamine Journal received a press release from Mayor Pete Sutherland reading, “After much consideration, the City Commission has decided to withdraw its support of the Hope over Jessamine Fall Fest scheduled for October 22, 2016 at this time. There is some concern over allowing a private entity to use city streets for an event. It has been suggested to festival organizers to join their efforts with Nicholasville NOW! or the Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce for a possible future festival.”

Ann Nipp, of the marketing and advertising agency Gen 47, who is helping host the event with Revive Ministries said she received a call around 3 p.m. on Wednesday concerning the festival.

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“Mayor Sutherland and the board have withdrawn their approval, but we still look forward to bring a positive festival to our community,” Nipp said.

The city commission did not hold a open meeting when they withdrew their approval.

“I talked back and forth on the phone with each commissioner,” Sutherland said. “I received phone calls and emails and I went ahead and took the initiative.”

Originally Hope Over Jessamine Fall Fest, was set to occur downtown around the courthouse. Now that the city has withdrawn its support, the festival will need to find a new location.

“We left like we were rushed,” Sutherland said. “(The Nicholasville City Commission) made a rash decision. In the past for the fall festival, the festival was held by a city organization, not a nonprofit (Revive Ministries).”

Not to say the city commission doesn’t want the festival to happen, it just needs to be a city organization to host it, Sutherland said. 

Some also felt the timing was not ideal.

“The timing was just going to be so critical,” City Commissioner Doug Blackford said. “Main Street is already closed for trick-or-treat in October. So it was really a timing issue.”

Gen 47 and Revive Ministries wanted to host the festival at the courthouse because it’s in the center of the community, Nipp said.

“It is disappointing, but we are still very excited,” Nipp said. “We know that we have the support for the festival from the city commission in general and from the mayor.”

Currently, the new location for the festival is expected to be in the Ignite Church parking lot on 996 N. Main St., Nipp said.

“All of the businesses are on board with the festival,” she said.

Hope Over Jessamine Fall Fest will host pageants for all ages from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and live music beginning at 3 p.m.

“Nothing has changed, except for the location,” Nipp said. “Everything is going to stay exactly the same. We are going to have miniature pony rides, a petting zoo, local food vendors, food trucks, also resources for citizens of use recovery. Different local community churches are getting involved.”

Politicians, such as Andy Barr will also be present.

“We don’t want it to be just a family fun festival, we want it to be a light for our city,” she said. “We want there to be resources of hope at the festival.”

Next year, Nipp said she hopes to bring the festival back to the courthouse.