Jaycees, Lombard will bring Taste back
The popular Taste of Lombard will go on this summer after all, supported by a new $2 gate fee for all fest-goers 13 and older.
The celebration over the Fourth of July - one of the suburbs' biggest - got a last-minute reprieve Thursday night when the village board approved a revised proposal from the Lombard Jaycees, sponsors of the fest.
Approximately 75 people, many wearing red Lombard Jaycees' T-shirts, turned out in support of the festival, a 28-year tradition in Lombard's Madison Meadow Park.
Two weeks ago, the village board voted not to fund the Taste or the Fourth of July fireworks, prompting a community outcry and a behind-the-scenes scramble to come up with funding. More than 4,300 people joined a Facebook group dedicated to saving the Taste, while supporters collected nearly 3,000 signatures online and on paper.
The Jaycees knew the community enjoyed the event but didn't realize how much "until they all screamed at once, 'We want the Taste of Lombard back,'" said the Jaycees' Tim Piper, co-chairman of the event.
The village in the past has subsidized the event, contributing $110,000 from the hotel-motel tax revenues to pay for fireworks, security, bus service and more. With hotel-motel taxes down 25 percent, the village asked the Jaycees to come up with a plan to cover about half the cost.
Under the revised proposal, the village will front $55,000 to cover expenses, which will be reimbursed from gate fees. The village will contribute $30,000 for the fireworks and $28,000 for police and fire overtime on the Fourth, but expects the Jaycees to reimburse $8,000.
The Jaycees project the gate fees will bring in nearly $150,000. Additional money collected will be put aside for the 2011 Taste of Lombard, with the goal of making the festival - except for the fireworks - self-sustaining.
Lombard resident Colleen Lane, wearing a "Save the Taste" T-shirt, said paying a $2 gate fee is "absolutely acceptable," while losing the Taste would be devastating.
"I have five kids," she said. "I can't afford to take them on a regular vacation. This IS our vacation."
Trustees praised the Jaycees for their hard work during the last two weeks to come up with alternative funding. The organization's agreement with the Lombard Park District prohibits an admission charge, but the park district agreed to waive that clause, Piper said.
The Jaycees said they had until today to sign contracts with vendors, including bands, restaurants and carnival operators. "There will be a lot of phone calls and paperwork (today)," Piper said.
Taste: Gate fees could bring in $150,000