Brookfest may not be dead yet.
Despite a decision in October by the Brookfield village board to kill the three-day music/carnival event held in mid-July at Brookfield’s Jaycee/Ehlert Park, a private events company has pitched a new plan for a two-day music-only fest in 2006.
Hank Zemola, CEO of Chicago Special Events Management (CSEM), which stands to lose its $11,500 management fee for helping Brookfield coordinate Brookfest, proposed to trustees at the village board meeting Monday night that his company could run a music-only version of the event at the park without any financial contribution from the village.
If Brookfest 2006 is going to happen, a decision will have to be reached in January in order for CSEM to approach potential sponsors for the event, Zemola said. The village board will reexamine the proposal at its Jan. 9 meeting and possibly vote on whether to consent to it on Jan. 23.
“You’ve spent an enormous amount of time and resources,” Zemola said of Brookfest. “Brookfest has its own brand and legacy. We’ve found that if you stop an event, it takes years to recover or it never recovers at all.
“We believe the event still has momentum.”
While the event turned a profit for the village over the past two years, village trustees decided to deep-six Brookfest principally for reasons of safety. The event has seen an increase in the number of fights in recent years, including Sunday night brawls in both 2004 and 2005. The 2004 melee ended in a police officer being hurt; in 2005 a teenage boy was injured.
Police Chief Thomas Schoenfeld said his department wanted the carnival eliminated from any future Brookfest, saying that “there are just absolutely mobs of youths everywhere … bent on causing a disturbance.”
However, the carnival was also the key to making Brookfest profitable, organizers said. In 2005, the carnival generated 16 percent of the fest’s total revenues.
Zemola said that CSEM’s version of Brookfest would not include a carnival.
“We’re proposing a two-day event that would be primarily music-driven,” Zemola said. “The carnival brings a different type of person to the event that is not attractive to the consumer and brings potential for trouble.”
The new event would take place during July possibly either July 14-15 or July 21-22. The hours of the event would be shortened somewhat, from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday and 4 to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Entertainment would be limited to one stage and would include, Zemola said, national or regional music acts. He estimated that tickets for the event would cost between $5 and $7, perhaps with discounted admission for Brookfield residents.
“We think this is fulfilling an entertainment need for local residents,” Zemola said.
Zemola said that CSEM would cover all costs related to organizing and putting on the event, from signing bands to promotion to fest set-up and breakdown to security.
In addition, he said CSEM would seek to involve local service organizations to work at the event as a way to help those groups raise money. In the past members of service groups were paid $5 per hour, money which would go directly to the service group.
“If the event makes money, we’ll normally give back more than $5 an hour,” Zemola said.
Security both inside the event and around the perimeter of the event could be handled by a private security firm hired by CSEM, Zemola said. Security personnel are all off-duty state, county and local police officers, he said.
CSEM would make its money selling sponsorships for the event. Zemola felt the event might be of interest to WLUP-FM, which he said is looking to relocate its annual Loopfest from the Tweeter Center in the far south suburbs to a more accessible and affordable location.
Zemola said his company would ask the village to provide the space for the event, fencing, a license to sell beer and wine and help coordinating emergency services volunteers. CSEM would insure the event privately, Zemola added.
Village President Michael Garvey wondered if union contracts with police and public works employees might conflict with such a deal, an issue Village Manager Riccardo Ginex said he’d look into.