The point of the nonprofit Main in Motion is not to make money, but to bring visitors and locals alike out each week to enjoy live music and entertainment, food from vendors and activities up and down the street, organizers say.
Last year the city charged $600 to close the street; this year, they raised the price to $6,000. Even with the increase, the city said, the increase still doesn’t cover all its costs.
Last September, the Montrose county commissioners voted to increase license fees for food vendors to $380, according to board member Lacy Baines, representing a 67 percent increase from the 2009 application form's mobile fee vendor charge of $255.
Combined, these fee increases could mean the demise of the festival, wrote Baines, director of children’s activities for the event, in a recent letter to the Montrose commissioners, which she made public.
“This will be Main in Motion’s 10th season, and due to outrageous costs and obstacles both the county and city are putting us up against, we can sadly say this may be our last year,” she wrote. “We cannot see continuing on an event that is supposed to help our community and town when our own government is working against us.”
Main in Motion Board President Kendra Morrow agrees that the fees are prohibitive, and said food vendors are way down this year for the event which will run June 2 through Aug. 18 because of the higher fees.
Main in Motion charges food vendors $250 for the 12-week event, and the added county fees makes it hard for them to make money, Morrow said, adding that she only learned last week that the county planned to charge vendors more, even though county spokeswoman Kristin Modrell said the commissioners, voting as the Board of Health, approved the higher rates last year.
“They said they are doing this because they are trying to recover fees for running the food inspection program,” she said. “The county doesn’t make a profit, but we need to cover the costs of inspections. We are one of the last counties to set these fees.”
Food vendor fees were established three years ago, Modrell said, but were updated in September, after Main in Motion had closed for the season.
The county charges $75 per hour for food inspection, but Morrow said she can’t get a firm answer on how many hours will be charged.
“We can’t budget for it,” Morrow said. “They can’t tell us if they’ll come in every week, or once a month, or whether they’ll send one of three [inspectors].”
Morrow said the county will bill Main in Motion at the end of the season for food inspections, she said, but can’t budget for it because she doesn’t know how much will be charged.
“I have no idea if that bill is going to be for $300 or $3,000,” she said.
When the county called Morrow to come to a meeting last week for the “bad news,” she said, she took other board members with her. Morrow said she is the only board member with a business on Main Street, and the others do it because they love the event. But sponsorship is way down, and she’s not sure why.
Bob Brown, board president of the Downtown Development Authority and downtown gallery owner, said Main in Motion has been a big help for downtown businesses. The DDA supports Main in Motion, he said, and contributed the $6,000 to cover street closure costs.
“The county fees are new to us, but the DDA is strongly in favor of success for Main in Motion, and we contribute significantly to help them do that,” he said.
But unless others help support the popular event, it could go away, Morrow said, like a hot air balloon festival on the Fourth of July that she attended as a kid, that ended because of increasingly higher fees.
“If we don’t help support this event, it’s going to disappear,” she said. “Especially if everyone keeps taking a chunk of it.”