Farmington summer festival gets ‘long term solution’

An iconic summer event that has gone through multiple organizers during its 57-year history now has a more permanent home.

Council members on Monday created an advisory committee to guide the Farmington Founders Festival into the future. Mayor Sara Bowman said the event has been “bumped around” largely because of the huge financial stakes attached.

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The festival has had several owners, including a nonprofit board, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and most recently, the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce. After the Chamber withdrew last year, the city and DDA struck an agreement to continue with event organizer Julie Law and 360 Event Productions.

Monday’s council action indefinitely continues that arrangement.

Long-term solution

“This is the long-term solution,” mayor Sara Bowman said. “The thought process was somebody needs to get a handle on the Founders Festival.”

Committee members include the city manager and treasurer, city attorney, DDA director, and a council member. The group will make recommendations to the council, city attorney Tom Schultz said.

“It truly is a functioning committee,” he added. “It’s a working, daytime committee to help you with the festival each year.”

Council member Steven Schneemann asked about adding a representative from Farmington Hills.

“It seems like the group is very tightly wound around City Hall,” he said. “Was that intentional?”

Name change

Bowman said that wasn’t off the table, but the festival is a Farmington event. “It wasn’t exclusionary, it was more, I’m not really sure what that input would be.”

Schneemann wanted another discussion to ensure the city wasn’t missing opportunities to tap into the larger city’s resources. Mayor pro tem Joe LaRussa pointed out the agreement doesn’t preclude the committee or 360 Event Productions from collaborating with anyone else.

“I think that it’s general enough that it allows for the formative discussions to be more open and broad,” LaRussa said, adding the city could revisit the issue after “a few runs at it.”

Before officials unanimously approved the resolution, council member Maria Taylor asked for an event name change from “Greater Farmington Founders Festival” to “Farmington Founders Festival” throughout. 

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