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City Takes On Special Events
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“Citywide special events” was a major topic of discussion at the Riverbank City Council meeting on Monday, Jan. 27. There were several events on the list including such annual favorites as Beyond Earth Day, the Farmer’s Market, and the Cheese and Wine Exposition.

The City of Riverbank will be taking over the Cheese and Wine Exposition and Director of Parks and Recreation, Sue Fitzpatrick and staff will be overseeing this year’s event.

The Riverbank Rotary Club has been organizing the event for the past eight years and prior to that the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce held those duties. Rotary Club members recently notified the city that they would not be able to operate the event any longer.

The Riverbank Cheese and Wine Expo has been held for the past 37 years.

“I think it will be a great event (Cheese and Wine) with help from the nonprofit community and we look forward to keeping the tradition in Riverbank,” said City Manager Jill Anderson.

Although, the City Council was given options prior to making the decision to have the city take it over, including one option that would require hiring an Event Coordinator or a firm that would facilitate the operations and planning of the event, with assistance from the city in putting it on. The additional expense of the coordinator would be paid for by the profits made by the Cheese and Wine event.

The amount of revenue from the event varies from year to year, however, according to a report submitted by Fitzpatrick, in reviewing past financials, once all expenses were paid including the event coordinator’s wages, there was approximately $8,000 in revenue.

Along with the Event Coordinator, the city would work closely with nonprofit groups like the Rotary and the Sheriff’s Department for additional assistance.

“It was made real clear that we are at capacity,” said Fitzpatrick. “We can only take on the event if we hire someone.”

The second option was to publicize to local nonprofits and private organizations that this event would be available for them to take on. However, if no one would accept the challenge then the event would no longer continue.

“I was in favor of taking it over,” said Mayor Richard O’Brien. “We did not want to lose it.”

The council voted unanimously for option one with the city taking charge of the event and hiring an Event Coordinator as well as accepting assistance from nonprofits, volunteers, and other groups.

“The Rotary would like to be involved in some aspect of the event,” said Fitzpatrick. “They would like to retain a component of the event.”

Fitzpatrick expressed that the city is looking for volunteers, groups, or individuals to help with the 2014 event, which will be put on in October.

“The city can’t do this on their own,” stated Fitzpatrick. “They (the council) said that this is what Riverbank is known for and the tradition is important.”

The event may take on some changes or it may look the same; officials said at this time it is too soon to tell.

“Now we are up against a tight time schedule with getting an Event Coordinator, getting them involved and start the ball rolling,” stated O’Brien. “By the end of February we should have somebody picked out to start the planning for the event.”

The Farmer’s Market will be added to the Wednesday Night Out events that should be starting in May and continuing through August.

“It will be phenomenal to see the Farmer’s Market there and have that be an entire community event, and I think it will be,” said O’Brien.

The Chamber of Commerce will be taking the lead on the Wednesday Night Out event along with the Farmer’s Market addition. They are looking for sponsors for the event.

The Kiwanis Club will be assisting in the Beyond Earth Day that will be combined with a new River Fest at Jacob Myers Park in April.

“I think that’s going to be an event for the future that is going to be tremendous,” stated O’Brien. “The event will incorporate a lot of fun water sports, and water safety.”

According to Anderson, they are still in the early planning stages of this event and will have more information on all the upcoming events in the near future.