Perry eyes a big, big festival -- The Village Park in Perry will host the Arts Council for Wyoming County’s (ACWC) 2021 Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show and Sale for the first time in October. It will take place on Columbus Day weekend and organizers say it is still a work in progress.
The Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show and Sale is one of the region’s biggest annual events. The autumn festival typically attracts tens of thousands of people daily while it’s underway at Letchworth State Park. But it’s set for the village of Perry this year for the first time ever.
Officials from the village and the Arts Council for Wyoming County updated area residents on what to expect during a Thursday evening information session. The Arts & Crafts Show and Sale is set for Columbus Day weekend at the Village Park.
“We had engaged in numerous meetings with the Letchworth State Park administration since the end of 2019 and at that time they had a new park manager,” said Executive Director Jacqueline Swaby of the ACWC. “The park administration decided that the park staff, capacity and their infrastructure could no longer support the Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show.”
So with Perry being located only three miles from the entrance of Letchworth State Park, and one mile from Silver Lake, the idea was to bring it to the village park.
“I think it is a good idea to have something like this in Perry because we can handle it,” said Village Trustee Jacquie Billings. Village officials also wanted to keep the crafts show going because it’s the ACWC’s main source of revenue and it’s ranked among the top 100 such festivals nationwide. The event was canceled last year as a COVID-19 pandemic precaution.
“We want to make sure that everything gets addressed and that anyone that does have concerns, that we answer all of them,” said Josh Wolcott, a member of the ACWC Board of Directors. “It is very important that the public is confident in our ability to have this event.” “The care and respect that we want to give to our neighbors is of the utmost importance to us,” Swaby said.
Thousands of people are expected to attend the three-day event and one of the biggest questions some people had was about parking and how to get to the event.
“We have secured over 2,000 parking spots in and around Perry,” Donald O’Geen of the Perry Rotary Club. “The main lots being used for this are the Perry Commerce Center, Perry Central Schools — both Elementary and High School — Pioneer and the Charcoal Corral. “At those lots, buses will pick people up and then take one of three designed routes to drop them off at the park,” he said. “We also want to make sure the wait times are reduced.”
Organizers don’t want people standing at the bus stop or the park waiting to get back to their cars, O’Geen said. “Each of these parking lots are going to be color-coded and each visitor who gets on one of these buses will receive a wristband,” he said. “It will be free to use the buses and admission into the park is also free, but there is a $10 charge to park at one of these lots.
“We did contract with the regional transit service and they will provide seven buses for each day with 9 to 10 hours of service for each bus,” he continued. “We have an eighth bus on standby in case of the other buses has a mechanical failure.”
The buses were not cheap. They cost about $20,000 for the event. The buses will operate 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday. They will run on three separate routes.
The cost to run the event is likewise expensive. The budget breakdown includes about $45,000 for administration; $20,000 for the shuttle system; $18,000 for marketing; $10,000 for sanitation; and a pool of artist prizes at $4,000. Billings said the ACWC spends about $67,000, while the Perry Rotary Club and Fire Department team for about $30,000.
“No dogs are allowed,” O’Geen said. “It does not mean that we are dog haters but we just do not want dogs for this show. This is a plan that we are still working at.”
To help with traffic issues, officials are considering closing all streets leading into the village park. “We are proposing to close down the streets leading into the park,” Superintendent Steve Deaton of the village’s Department of Public Works. “With no through traffic and local traffic only. There will be no parking on those streets. “This includes Lake, Walker Road, Silver Lake, as the county has advised us that all south roads off of 20A should also be closed, with no parking or through traffic as well.,” he said. “We will have signs up and the police department will be handing out tickets or towing as needed to help enforce that.”
The number of artisans allowed at the event was capped at 220 instead of the usual 300, and organizers say about 15 food vendors will be at the event. “We will also be enforcing fire protection and permits for the food vendors,” said Chief David Laraby of the Perry Fire Department. The Perry Police Department will also be enforcing its presence with extra patrols.
“We will have officers in the park on bikes or walking,” said Chief Michael Grover. “We don’t want to tow anyone’s car but if they are blocking a driveway, we will do it as a last resort.”
A mobile tower will be brought in to help with radio signals for the Village but no Wi-Fi booster is planned as of right now. Organizers say it could end up impacting the current service and are confident that Perry can handle the needs of people who will be at the event.
What they also don’t have are ATM machines but Billings says they are working to get two of them for the event. Volunteers are also being sought. “We need to get between 100-130 volunteers per day for numerous tasks,” said Tara Harding of the Perry Rotary Club. “Some are stationary and some are active needs.” From four hour shifts to a full day, Harding said they’ll take anyone willing to lend a helping hand.
- “We have seven parking lots needing volunteers,” she said.
- “We need money collectors,
- ticket givers,
- people to hand out wrist bands,
- parking attendants.
- We have welcome tents in the park that need to be manned.
- “We have bus pick up tents that need to be manned,” she continued.
- “We need food tents and people to clean up the area.
- We need people to empty garbage.
- We need two people to man the large pick up tents.”
Anyone looking to volunteer can contact Harding at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is the first time Perry has held the event, and organizers say because of the spirit of the residents and the community pride they are confident it will be a success.