The City of Dearborn’s goal of making the Homecoming Festival self-sustaining is on track, according to a report released this week by the Dearborn Community Fund, which oversees the festival.
The report showed that a combination of $3,000 in cuts to expenses and a $26,000 jump in revenue from 2010 resulted in the 2011 festival netting $27,313 above costs.
Increased revenue, according to the city, can be attributed to both ramped up sponsorship efforts and increases in fees–including parking, carnival tickets and booth rentals.
All proceeds will go toward offsetting costs for the 2012 Homecoming Festival, which takes place this weekend, Aug. 3-5.
As a result, no general funds were used to subsidize the festival in 2011. The costs incurred by the city–$63,275 in total–were labor-related, including overtime hours and part-time staff hired to help with the festival in the police, public works, fire, recreation, economic and community development and public information departments.
Community Fund Executive Director EmmaJean Woodyard said that the report was a joint effort by the city and the DCF to show residents the facts about what Homecoming costs, and what it can accomplish.
“Last year was the first year that we came together, and report is meant to demonstrate the responsible approach taken to sustaining Homecoming,” she explained. “It also reinforces the main goal of Homecoming, which is fundraising for Dearborn nonprofits."
That latter point, Woodyard stressed, is both the most important and most overlooked success of the festival.
Nonprofit partners to the festival run the gamut from small groups of residents to large organizations, which run food and drink booths, as well as organize events–suh as the Kiwanis club's Turtle Derby. The effort both supports the festival’s costs, as well as raises funds for the organizations.
According to the report, profits to 19 of the 23 involved organizations totaled $72,085 in 2011. Four groups reported net losses, totaling $5,300.
“When you go down there and spend your money, it’s going back to all these nonprofits,” Woodyard said. “They’re working to raise money that goes back into scholarships and band uniforms and dictionaries and Safety Town–all of these things that make the community better.”
But to many residents, the larger question being asked of the city is: Should Homecoming continue through tough economic times?
In its heyday, the city used to pay roughly a $200,000-per-year subsidy for the three-day festival–including nearly $80,000 on big-name entertainment. Back then, Mayor Jack O'Reilly said, the city did not even keep a detailed budget for Homecoming costs.
Clearly, times have changed.
"We're moving toward a business model (for the city)," O'Reilly told Dearborn Patch following the 2011 festival. "We need to know how much things cost so we can figure out how to save money."
O’Reilly has maintained that if the festival can continue to break even, it should stay.
Woodyard said that one successful year is promising, but certainly doesn’t guarantee sustainability.
“When we finish up this year, we’ll reevaluate again,” she added.
See the attached PDF for full details of the report.