Thursday, May 2, 2013

Update: Oyster Fest Mess

Posted by on Thu, May 2, 2013 at 2:40 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DREW HYLAND
  • Photo by Drew Hyland
The $10 Oyster Fest admission fee – which raised the ire of many oyster-eaters and the approval of many others – won’t line the pockets of the Arcata elite, says Arcata Main Street Executive Director Jennifer Koopman.

Because of recent financial woes, Koopman said, Main Street needs money to keep Oyster Fest afloat. Not to mention Main Street’s other events throughout the year, including Arts! Arcata. The fee will allow Main Street to fund an aquaculture grant and an Arcata High School scholarship program, she said.

Also – the festival has gotten too big and too unruly. From a press release:

Arcata Main Street’s Board of Directors hopes the $10 entrance fee will change the dynamic and energy of the event, making it safer and more fun for all ages. In addition, the non-profit organization is working with the Arcata Police Department, the Arcata Fire Protection District and the City of Arcata to manage the large crowds and maintain the crowd’s civility as the event comes to an end at 5:30 p.m.

The Oyster Festival will operate a little differently this year. Due to organizational budgets, festival management and attendance, safety concerns and increasing costs, Arcata Main Street will charge a $10 entrance fee to enter the festival grounds surrounding the Arcata Plaza. There will be no charge for beer wristbands.

“Putting on a festival of this magnitude is very expensive and unfortunately due to the loss of redevelopment funds from the state we have had our budget cut dramatically,” said Arcata Main Street Vice President Nicholas Matthews. “These budget cuts and the increasing price of putting on this event had put the viability of promoting future events of this nature in jeopardy.”

The full press release can be read at the bottom of this post.


When The Journal broke the news Tuesday that admission to this year’s Oyster Festival will cost $10, folks went into a tizzy.

In more than 100 comments on The Journal’s Facebook page, detractors decry the “elitist” move and threaten boycotts, while proponents say 10 clams is a small price to pay for a day of music and fun at one of Humboldt County’s most popular events. At least one disgruntled vendor is trying to back out.

Amid the hollering, a whole lot of questions remain. Some are suggesting that kids get in free. Others hint at a major headlining band. Yet others say that Main Street is holding on by a thread and needs the money — don’t be stingy.

And while defenders of the decision have asked for an opportunity for Arcata Main Street to explain, calls and emails to Executive Director Jennifer Koopman, Board President David Neyra and Vice President Nick Matthews were not fruitful. Koopman and Neyra said they were too busy to talk. Matthews didn't respond.

Here’s what we do know:

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