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MAYOR: Possible changes coming to Palace Festival

Another year of Corn Palace Festival is in the books. It appears we will be in the black, though not by a great deal. If the figures hold through the final count, we will make roughly $6,000 for the festival. Better than a loss, but that is still a decrease from last year's $30,000 plus.

Part of what helps boost the festival numbers into the black, is the carnival. The carnival revenue is what helps subsidize the entertainment that is brought in for the festival, assisting with keeping lower, more-affordable ticket prices for the main shows, and also allows us to offer some free entertainment options throughout the week.

Many people seem to have the belief we pay the carnival to be here. That is incorrect, the carnival pays us to be here. We receive roughly 30 percent of the first $100,000 the carnival receives in sales, and 35 percent of all sales over $100,000. This can be a substantial amount of dollars to the city for the festival. So it is important the carnival makes money. Over the past 10 years, those numbers have been on a fairly steady decline. (No pun intended).

While it seems the carnival has shrunk, Goldstar does meet or exceed the contract requirements for the number of rides they have on the midway. During Festival, community members request Goldstar relocate or alter the rides they have placed on Main Street.

Goldstar has typically been accommodating to these requests, but it often results in them not bringing those rides back in future years. So, while the carnival vendor continues to fulfill the required number of rides they provide, the types of rides they set up over the years has varied due to these requests from the community.

The more frequent complaints heard by the Corn Palace Events and Entertainment Board, as well as city staff, relate to more rides, and/or bigger rides. Our goal is to have Goldstar, or whichever vendor is contracted with, be as efficient and set up as many rides and games as they possibly can. This ensures that the carnival continues to be successful, and the city can continue to use revenue from the carnival to help fund festival events for the week.

This year was the last year of a five-year contract with Goldstar Entertainment, so we are in the process of working through a new five-year agreement. What we are doing this year is bringing before the Mitchell City Council two proposals for the carnival. One is for the typical carnival placement, that being from First Avenue to Seventh Avenue, as has been the tradition for as long as can be remembered.

The second, alternative proposal, moves the carnival to Fifth Avenue up to Ninth Avenue, placing the games and rides around the Corn Palace, using the streets and parking lots in this area for set up of the games and rides. Option two, roughly measured, provides an additional 100,000 square feet of space for carnival set up to the plan. Regardless of the option selected, we need the community to support the carnival, and how the vendor decides is the best option for placing their games and rides, to make it profitable for both the carnival and the City.

This will be presented to the Council at the second meeting in October, so if you have an opinion, this is your chance to be heard.

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