September 05, 2012 - The dust has settled, the guests have gone and the Dragon has returned to its lake, but the memories are still warm for many Orion residents.
The two who made it all possible. James Jenkins and Lauren Dinneweth stand ready to take a vacation. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
The 2012 Dragon on the Lake was a success.
With such a massive event, the people responsible for planning can sometimes be forgotten. The lead two on the project, Art Center Director Lauren Dinneweth and Event Planner James Jenkins shared their thoughts on the event's success, the feedback from everyone involved, what went right and what went wrong.
"We're still figuring things out and how much everyone made," said Dinneweth. "We're still going through invoices even, because it's such a huge event. I think people don't realize what a gift this is to the community. The many sponsorships we had and the community involvement allows us to offer things at a low cost that people can experience for free. The crafts, the inflatable, all of it is free to the community, but the sponsors pay for it."
Dinneweth added how much she values the community sponsors and how much she enjoys using events like Dragon on the Lake to bring people together. Another aspect which prevailed this year was the event's ability to draw attention to cancer research, a byproduct of the key sponsorship form McLaren Cancer Institute. Yet another important part of the festival is generating revenue to maintain the art center.
"We cannot say enough about the people who helped us," said Dinneweth. "Countless hours were given, connections were made and people got involved."
Jenkins said the overall response was positive and that revenues were expected to be the same or higher from 2011's event.
"Everyone seemed satisfied and the funds will go towards funning the art center for the next six months," said Jenkins. "In the past the art center had an intake of $25,000, which is basically enough to keep the center going, but it is a labor of love. This is a great way to connect the people of the community with each other and with the arts."
The attraction was so great this year that both planners now see a benefit for starting on Friday evening with the potential for hiring a band for the lighted boat parade. This theory comes from the heavy crowds seen at the Sunday night 80's party, which according to Dinneweth was a huge success.
Another key aspect of the 2012 Dragon on the Lake was the involvement with downtown, which was actually a last minute decision. The choice met with so much positive feedback from visitors who loved being able to walk in downtown without worrying about cars that there will likely be even more integration next year.
The children's area also was well attended, moving the pub to the more secluded municipal lot (near Children's Park) was popular and saw that the event didn't get too congested. The extreme zone was also successful and will make a reappearance.
Yet in all the commotion of the event, the art it seems, may have taken a back seat.
"I love being able to have the art focus downtown but I want to do more next year," "I think people liked the chalk art where it was this year but we're looking for a smarter way to do it. The sidewalks were not the best canvases and the street might work better while allowing businesses to put vendors on the sidewalk."
According to Kathleen Klein of Waste Management, who helped sponsor the event, around 75 percent of the waste was recycled, making this the greenest Dragon on the Lake yet.
Last but not least were the Dragon Boat races, which saw a repeat victor in the Island Bombers. In 2013, Dinneweth and Jenkins said they would like to focus on expanding the races, bring the current 18 teams to 30, and introduce categories for the races such as pitting local businesses, eateries and governments against each other. Suggestions included Lake Orion Village versus Orion Township, firemen versus police and more.
As for the two head planners of the event, they thanked the sponsors and said they would likely rest for a bit before planning the next Dragon on the Lake.
"We'll probably be taking a nap for a while, but then we'll probably be out talking to sponsors and doing recaps so we can make sure we do it right next year," said Jenkins. "We'll probably dig right right in this October."
For more information on the art center visit their webpage at orionartcenter.com or call them at 248-693-4986.