Village staff recommends cancellation of Buffalo Grove Days, Fourth of July events, but not Farmers Market

           
The Buffalo Grove Village Board will consider the fate of three major summer village-sponsored events; the Fourth of July concert and fireworks, the Farmers Market and Buffalo Grove Days.
            In the agenda packet for the meeting, reports for each event paint a bleak picture for two of the three events; the Fourth of July concert and fireworks and Buffalo Grove Days being held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
            The lone survivor may be the Farmers Market, scheduled to run from June 14 through Oct. 11.
            It’s a different story for Buffalo Grove Days. While individual days have been cancelled, the entire event has never been cancelled in its 58-year history. The event started as a steer roast in 1958, officially becoming Buffalo Grove Days in 1961.
            In a memo to board members, Public Works Director Mike Reynolds, who is staff liaison to Buffalo Grove Days, notes that “The challenges associated with putting on this event are daunting, even in a normal year. However, given our current circumstances, the challenges this year will be magnified.” Reynolds cites that some sponsors were concerned about the event as early as February when concerns about COVID-19 started to emerge. He also states that the availability of food vendors may be tenuous, noting that “food vendors, hard pressed to participate in good years, will likely be unable to participate this year. Many restaurants have had to close their doors to on-site dining and reduce their business to curb-side pick-up or carry-out patrons only.”
            A contributing factor to Reynold’s recommendation that Buffalo Grove Days be cancelled are the financial implications. According to Reynolds, the event has lost an average of $41,898 the past two years, losing $83,764 in 2018 and $32,521 last year. The drop from 2018 to 2019 was not detailed in the memo, but weather had a significant impact on the 2018 Buffalo Grove Days. Records in the agenda packer indicate that revenues for the event were $125,684 in 2018 to $173,761 in 2019, costs were $209,449 in 2018 and $206,282 in 2019.
            Projections by village staff for revenues this year are $86,853, which would be a 50.02 percent drop, while expenses, Reynolds notes, would climb a modest $1,219 to $207,501, for a $120,648 shortfall.
            Reynolds notes in his memo that “…after reviewing the challenges that lay ahead, the reality of cancelling this event is becoming a more certain with every passing day. It is my recommendation that the Village cancel the 2020 Buffalo Grove Days Festival.”
            As for the Fourth of July events, Village Manager Dane Bragg, in a memo to the Board, said guidelines for large gatherings are a key factor. According to his memo, “If larger gatherings are permitted, the Village Green and golf course properties do not have sufficient space to provide for proper social distancing without risking property damage, particularly at the golf course. For these reasons, staff believes that the practicality of hosting the Independence Day festivities on schedule is difficult if not impossible.”
            So why does the Farmers Market appear to get a green light?  According to Deputy Village Manager, Chris Stilling, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s executive order “…considers local farmers markets as essential businesses and serve as a key component in preserving local and regional food production and supply.”
            That does not mean that the Farmers Market can operate as it has in the past. Stilling’s memo says “…Staff believes that the Village can still facilitate this year’s Farmer’s Market by developing strict guidelines consistent with the State’s recommendations.” State guidelines for Farmers Markers includes an exhaustive set of guidelines ranging from social distancing to noncash payments only. Additionally, there would be a prohibition on onsite food consumption and free samples.
            The Village Board will meet virtually at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 4. Access to the meeting can be achieved by going to https://www.vbg.org/may4boardmeeting or by calling in at 312-626-6799. The webinar ID number is: 889 1355 9217.

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