ST. GEORGE — Main Street has been conspicuously quiet on the first Friday of each month since Georgefest went on hiatus in December 2017.
The popular downtown St. George street festival is receiving what city officials are calling a much-needed facelift after some festivalgoers and area business owners complained about its most recent iterations.
The St. George City Council voted Thursday to continue funding the event, scheduled to relaunch March 2, after the Georgefest Organization’s management was restructured to implement changes.
Georgefest, billed as a nightlife event designed to celebrate the best of Southern Utah, operates on a portion of Main Street south of St. George Boulevard and features live music, street vendors and other entertainment.
In recent months, some area business owners have come to refer to it as a “free babysitting” event as teens and younger children were loose to wander the festival unsupervised.
Councilwoman Michelle Randall surveyed all of the surrounding business owners, and she said almost all of them expressed frustration with unruly children who don’t buy anything and loud, often inapplicable music, referring to a separate “Jazz Garden” venue at Green Gate Village that had recently begun featuring non-jazz artists.
Current Georgefest Chairman John Kessler said he has taken the feedback into account and hopes to revitalize the event.
“The event has basically come full circle,” Kessler said. “With the vision that we all have is to promote businesses, to promote St. George … to show off our talent, our ability, our artists.”
“We have some great talented people with backgrounds in marketing and advertising and event planning,” he said, noting that event planning professional Carrie Bunker has stepped in as the festival’s interim executive director.
“The Georgefest street festival you have come to know and love is getting a facelift,” Bunker said in a news release. “We have listened to your feedback and we are making things even better.”
Kessler said the event has been redesigned with venues targeting families in the early evening and adult audiences at the Jazz Garden throughout the evening.
Organizers are also working to give the brick-and-mortar stores along Main Street greater visibility while still allowing street market vendors to offer food and crafts.
The City Council voted to fund the event from March 2018 to October 2018 at a rate of $2,000 per month with additional in-kind contributions in the form of policing and traffic control.
“I’m willing to give this a second shot and hope for a great improvement, and if not, I’m not approving this again,” Randall said before voting to approve the sponsorship measure.
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