Arlington Heights' Mane Event festival has lost a major sponsor, but there's no shortage of groups wanting to claim ownership of this thoroughbred.
Arlington Park no longer will contribute $7,500 for the downtown block party held the weekend of the Arlington Million, racetrack General Manager Tony Petrillo confirmed today.
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"Our financial resources have to be focused on our core business that allows it to grow and return a reasonable profit that will allow us to provide direct financial support events such as the Mane Event in the future," he said in a written statement.
Instead, Petrillo said, the racetrack has replaced direct financial contribution with a program that will make admission tickets available at cost to community-based groups. The groups then can sell those tickets for up to face value to raise funds.
The village plans to use money from its Arts & Entertainment Fund to make up the $7,500 loss. That means putting a smaller amount into a reserve fund for common areas of the village-owned Metropolis Performing Arts Centre building.
In the meantime, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce wants to take over leadership of the event--and the money the village puts into hosting it, said Dr. Joe Favia, immediate past president of the chamber.
Village trustees, who learned of the racetrack's decision Wednesday night, seem more likely to side with Kevin Seifert, chairman of the Special Events Commission that now runs Mane Event with the chamber as a significant partner.
"I think it's a great relationship between us and the chamber," said Seifert. "However, our mission is to provide free to low-fee family entertainment, and the chamber's mission is to increase and help grow the business community. Not to sound like a hippie, but I would hate to see the Mane Event become too commercial."
All parties agreed the commission and chamber should meet and bring ideas back to the village board.
The Mane Event costs the village about $47,000, including salaries for extra work by employees. The village takes the money from the Arts & Entertainment Fund, whose only income is from a one-quarter percent tax on restaurant bills. The festival is held the Friday night before the Arlington Million race.
Last year, the chamber of commerce added a Taste of Arlington on Saturday and funded it without financial help from the village. Favia proposed that the village contribute $20,000 for the event this year, and Trustee John Scaletta supported a donation of $10,000, which is close to the surplus in the Arts & Entertainment Fund.
Scaletta said the money should be used on publicizing the event to bring in more people from outside the village.
Favia also said the chamber would like to organize and fund a Sunday afternoon event downtown that weekend. But Mayor Arlene Mulder objected because it would compete with an art fair scheduled that day.