Douglas County OKs four festivals in Genoa for Candy Dance weekend

Kurt Hildebrand
Shannon Litz/RC file photos

County commissioners approved four festival permits for Candy Dance weekend, including one for the Town of Genoa.

Fire and sheriff’s fees were ordered split evenly among the four festivals and will have to be paid up front, according to action commissioners took on Monday.

The festivals, held Sept. 28-29, will split $16,600 in police and fire fees four ways with each paying $4,150.

Organizers of the three private festivals, which coincide with Candy Dance and are held in Genoa, asked to pay their police and fire fees after the event, and based on the number of booths they have.

Sheriff’s Capt. David Aymami said his office is seeking fees up front because commissioners left a loophole last year that resulted in the sheriff’s office being shorted by one of the private festivals.

Candy Dance is the annual fundraiser, which accounts for a lion’s share of the town’s revenue during the year. Three business owners, Martha Williams, Phil Stoll and Gilles LaGourge, say that because the craft fair closes the town, and access to their businesses, they have a right to use their property for their own festivals.

“The Genoans don’t have any respect,” LaGourge said. “If they don’t want me to be open for those three days, they can pay me for three days’ work.”

Commissioners pointed out that Genoa does not have the authority to close the businesses, but access to the town is limited because all the roads are closed.

An estimated 30,000 people visit Genoa during the weekend, parking around the perimeter and riding shuttles into town.

Foothill resident Jim Slade told commissioners he felt the annual Candy Dance discussion was a waste of time and energy.

“I like Candy Dance itself,” he said. “These other festivals are piggybacking on Candy Dance. They’re taking advantage of the larger event. If they don’t like how the fees are being charged, they can pick another weekend.”

Commissioner Barry Penzel who has participated in Candy Dance as a vendor said he would prefer the town work out a deal with the business owners so there’s just one permit. He pointed out the conflict has been going on for 22 years.

“We should be getting one permit for the entire town,” he said. “This needs to be worked out, and I don’t think it’s an issue they want us to decide.”

Commissioner Nancy McDermid agreed with Penzel that there should be one permit.

“It’s a good solution, but to date it hasn’t been achieved,” she said.

Commissioner Lee Bonner described the annual permit fight as a “debacle.”

“By having the other festivals on Candy Dance, they are taking advantage of the crowd,” he said.

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