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Celebrate Oxford $6,100 short; DDA seeks donations



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August 08, 2012 - Say brother, can you spare $100?

The Oxford Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is seeking businesses and individuals willing to make donations to help cover the cost of this year's Celebrate Oxford event (Aug. 3-5), which right now is facing a deficit of $6,151.

"The goal was to host this three-day event for the same price tag (as) the previous year's one-day event," said wrote DDA Director Madonna Van Fossen in an Aug. 1 e-mail sent to 50 local retailers. "The reality is after reconciling the expenses I am over budget due to the lack of sponsorships I anticipated obtaining and I need help.

"I am again appealing to all business owners to help support this festival by making a $100 contribution to offset the cost," Van Fossen wrote. "At this time, all I need is a commitment from you for the $100 with a promise to pay after the event."

Actually, Celebrate Oxford isn't really technically "over budget."

It's just that the DDA didn't collect enough in sponsorship money ahead of time to meet what it planned to spend. It was also counting on some revenue from the event's beer tent, which didn't materialize as projected.

"We fell short on sponsorships this year," said DDA Administrative Assistant Maria Martin. "So, we've had to get very creative in terms of making the budget meet."

"This whole event is funded off sponsorships," she explained. "There's nothing that actually comes out of the DDA coffers. It's all 100 percent reliant on sponsorships and donations . . . I think what the public probably doesn't realize is all these events that happen downtown are all sponsorship-based. We need to generate revenues to cover the cost of providing these for the public."

Martin noted that Celebrate Oxford "included so many new things this year" and "all of that has brought in new costs and the need for us to try and find new sponsors

Originally, the budget for Celebrate Oxford was set at $20,000. Martin indicated the DDA actually spent $18,076 on the event.

Unfortunately, in terms of sponsorship dollars and projected revenue earned from the event, the DDA has $11,925, leaving a deficit of $6,151 for this year's celebration.

The good news is $1,000 of that $11,925 the DDA has are commitments for $100 donations from 10 businesses who responded positively to Van Fossen's e-mail solicitation.

The bad news is $4,000 of that $6,151 is because the beer tent did not earn any profits. The tent was paid for and operated by the Oxford Tap, which was going to give the DDA a percentage of the profits. It was projected the DDA's cut would be $4,000.

"The beer tent ran at a loss," Martin said. "It wasn't well-supported during the day. It was very well-supported at night, but not enough to cover their expenses."

In her e-mail solicitation, Van Fossen stated, "While we are involving more vendors and organizations enabling us to offer more activities, the cost(s) involved in this event are still huge."

Martin explained that adding to these costs were "strategic decisions" such as not charging for any of the activities in the Kidz Town area. "We really just wanted to give back to the community," she said. "That's what Celebrate Oxford has traditionally been about."

Making these events free to the public is also an attempt to "bring people downtown, so they can spend that money in our retail stores," Martin added.

To make a donation, please contact Martin at (248) 210-0919 or e-mail her at events@villageofoxford.org.

"We appreciate any donations that we can get just to help us offset some of the costs," Martin said. "The people who have been sponsors and donors have been very generous and we just really, really appreciate any support that we can get. We just hope people do appreciate the sponsors that do support us because if the public supports them, it puts us in better stead to get financing or sponsorships from them in the future."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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