Members of the Riverbank City Council were asked to consider some changes to the Cheese and Wine exposition due to the Rotary Club expressing that it does not have the resources to continue sponsoring the event as it has in the past. The update for council was provided at the Monday, Dec. 9 city council meeting.
The request was formally made by City Manager, Jill Anderson to the city council for consideration and direction.
“Recently the Mayor was approached by the Rotary asking for some consideration from the city about taking a larger role in the production of that event,” explained Anderson. “Because the Rotary is finding that they don’t have the time and resources to put it on at the level that they have for the last number of years.”
In a report submitted by Sue Fitzpatrick, Director of Parks and Recreation, she noted that the Riverbank Rotary Club has done an excellent job of administering the festival for the past eight years. The Chamber of Commerce had sponsored the event prior to the Rotary Club stepping in to take over.
Some of the changes that could be considered are changing the scope of the event, the location, title, or the administrative operation.
The report also noted that the number of vendors has decreased over the years, which has affected the revenue of the festival.
Fitzpatrick has met with Chris Elswick, Cheese and Wine event coordinator, and will gather the financial information, the challenges of operations, and the options to provide a more detailed report to the council at a meeting in January or the first meeting in February.
“This event has in the past spread a lot of funds to a lot of non-profits,” said Mayor Richard O’Brien. “It is not only iconic to our City of Riverbank but it is our key event.”
“CVCR is interested in partnering with the Rotary Club to see how we can help out or take over or whatever is needed,” said Councilmember, Darlene Barber-Martinez.
The councilwoman is CEO of CVCR, the Central Valley Community Resources, which is a non-profit organization that makes resources available to coordinate services and programs for individuals, families, and seniors.
The discussion was also opened to the public and Riverbank resident Edward Jones stated that he would like to set up a booth as would several friends, but the cost of the space is too expensive.
“I do want to make the point that when we take on something like this it means we will have to say no to some other things down the road,” said Anderson. “We would need to hire probably a part time event coordinator with the proceeds that we would anticipate.
“This is a huge commitment the city would be taking on.”
Councilmember Cal Campbell agreed with the Mayor on proceeding with the discussions and working out the details before making a final decision.
“I would like to see some public input if possible somehow on ways they would like to see us improve the festival or different directions that we could go,” suggested Councilmember Jeanine Tucker. “I have heard comments over the last few years about different aspects of the festival, but I think it’s important that we get public comment on it.”
City staff has been directed to gather additional information and schedule a meeting with interested parties in the near future.