End of an era

THE LANDMARK VIEW

Opinion

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You could see this vote coming three years ago. Back then, Brookfest's problems were free tickets, "tip" jars and inexact accounting. Now it's safety and security. The net result is the same thing?"Brookfest is dead. Sure, it's being posited as a one-year hiatus, but we all know better.

Brookfest is toast.

Is it the right decision? Who knows? Certainly, the fest has been a financial success in the past two years. Fans of the various musical acts have faithfully flocked to Brookfest and have been generally well-behaved and had an enjoyable time. And the Sunday fireworks display has been a local summer favorite?"maybe an excuse to extend the village's July 4 celebration a couple of extra weeks.

On the other hand, fights at the Brookfest carnival and two scary Sunday night incidents in the past two years are a real concern. There's no need to downplay their contribution to Monday night's decision to cancel next year's fest. The carnival has gotten a reputation as a place where troublemakers gather. It's unfortunate, but it's a reality.

In the end, what was intended as a summer party for Brookfield residents has become something many residents choose to avoid. Sure, no one keeps numbers on exactly who attends the fest and why, but the anecdotal evidence is widespread.

What the village board decided Monday was that it wasn't worth spending $134,000 on an event residents don't feel is for them.

In many respects, the decision was inevitable. It's impossible to legislate who can come to the fest and who can't. The only thing you can do is organize an event that troublemakers aren't attracted to. It's tough to do. It's also tough to resist the urge to make every year's event the "biggest" and "best" it's ever been.

Many people, including many residents, won't be happy with the decision to scrap Brookfest. But on the heels of police concerns over the past two years, it's tough to argue with it.

It would be sad to lose the fireworks display completely, and we hope village officials can find some way to keep that tradition, whether its made part of the village's July 4 festivities or a separate event.

The main goal of village-sponsored events, however, should be as community gatherings or as tools for economic development. Brookfest is such a huge undertaking that it requires months of attention from village staff and the Special Events Commission. Perhaps, those months could be better spent on formulating plans for a couple of smaller events tailored to residents of all ages.

The Brookfest era is over. That's OK. Time for a new era, that's all.

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