Fox Trot, Art & Soul could be saved by local Elgin groups
Separate groups in Elgin are willing to step in and work to organize the Elgin Valley Fox Trot race and the Art & Soul on the Fox festival, provided the city council approves a $5,000 sponsorship for each.
The race in May and the art festival in August have been funded by the city as part of its annual lineup of 20 events. This year, the city plans to cut the race and the festival, along with International Festival, or iFest, and the Elgin Civil War Experience, which would save $100,000, according to city officials.
The Kenyon Farm Runners, in partnership with Elgin Lions Club and F3 Events LLC, which organizes races in Chicago, is ready to begin registration for 5K and 10K Fox Trot races May 31 in downtown Elgin, if the city contributes the $5,000, said Tim Williams of Kenyon Farm Runners.
"It's been our home race for many, many years. A lot of people in our group, they gear their training for it," Williams said.
The group Art for All will study how to make Art & Soul on the Fox happen this year, also provided the city contributes $5,000, said group board president Jane Erlandson.
Art for All has comanaged the downtown Elgin festival by handling artists, booths and the juried selection, Erlandson said. The preliminary idea is for an indoor festival, which would save on security costs, possibly in the fall, but it's unclear if the effort will succeed, she said.
"We (Art for All) are so tiny but we very much want to keep this kind of event in Elgin. There's a lot of people that do ... but people don't know how much work goes into it, and how much it costs," she said.
City staff members, who publicly discussed the plan to "reduce and refocus" events last fall, have declined to give information about any plans for new events in 2020. They will give a presentation Wednesday to the city council, which also will decide whether to provide the $5,000 sponsorships, city special events coordinator Kate O'Leary confirmed.
City staff members told them Art & Soul on the Fox cost about $21,000 and the Fox Trot cost about $66,000, Erlandson and Williams said. Both figures included city staffing costs.
Erlandson said she is OK with the city's decision to revisit its events lineup and gather input from the community.
As for the Fox Trot, Williams said the Kenyon Runners and its partners are considering taking over the race in future years as well, by finding outside sponsorships and relying on volunteers. This year's race would have a modified course with a portion along the Fox River, which would save on costs, he said. Also, the new date after Memorial Day is expected to increase attendance because it wouldn't compete with school graduations and a 10K race at Soldier Field in Chicago, he said.
The goal is for the Fox Trot to continue raising funds for nonprofits, but details are being worked out, Williams said.