Clarification Added: Greenfield Board Considers Moving Fiddlestick Festival
BY DAVID FISHER
GREENFIELD (February 8) — The possibility of changing the location of this year’s Fiddlestick Festival in Greenfield was the top item for discussion during the Greenfield City Board meeting on February 8, 2022. The annual event is sponsored by Pope Concessions and several local businesses, as well as Greenfield City Hall.
Fiddlestick Festival Location
At last month’s meeting, the Greenfield Board approved holding the Fiddlestick Festival April 13 through April 16. However, they agreed that the location of the festival would not be determined until the February meeting, so businesses owners along Front Street would have an opportunity to voice their concerns.
The area in question is from the intersection of Hwy. 124 to the Mexican Restaurant on South Front Street.
After hearing complaints from local business owners at last Tuesday’s board meeting, the board reconsidered holding the festival in that area. These business owners complained about having it in front of their stores and expressed their desire to move it to another location.
For the past 27 years, the festival has provided one of the few forms of entertainment available to youngsters from low-income families.
If a suitable alternate location cannot be worked out, the annual four-day event may not be held this year. This would mean hundreds of local children will not be able to enjoy the free carnival rides, as well as carnival treats, an ice-cream eating contest, and other family-oriented activities that the festival provides each year.
The Fiddlestick Festival gets its name from the “Fiddlestick” ice cream treat that has been made available at various county fairs and celebrations throughout West Tennessee and the Southeast since 1924 by Pope’s Concessions in Greenfield.
Although the festival’s current footprint, as in years past, would leave a lane of traffic open for deliveries to businesses along South Front Street, business owners complained the festival rides and booths set up along South Front Street prevent customer parking in front of their stores. They suggested developing a plan that would allow the festival to continue without reducing access to their businesses.
Those business owners along South Front Street seeking to relocate the festival include: K.K. Robinson, owner of the Violet Rhea & Co. gift shop; Debbie Wren, proprietor of The Wren’s Nest tanning salon; and Elizabeth Hutchens, owner of Special Occasion Bridal & Formal Wear.
Robinson stated the festival falls on the week before Easter this year, which is a busy time for her shop, as well as for Elizabeth Hutchens’ business.
Alderman Chris Turbeville stated the board should consider an alternate location.
Some of the suggestions included:
- Holding the festival in the parking area in front of Simmons Bank, which would greatly reduce the number of attractions. The mayor stated the bank area is not a good location, because of the open streets and the danger of children crossing streets.
- Moving it behind the old Kellwood building. However, Alderman James Roy Pope, owner of Pope’s Concessions, pointed out the ground is rough in that area and parking would be an issue. Fire Chief Bob Dudley said there are no electrical boxes hookups for carnival activities on the north end of the block. Also, since it’s private property, and the city would have to have the land owner’s permission. “It’s a big event for the town and I’d hate to hide it,” Pope said.
- Relocating the festival to Industrial Drive. But this was quickly ruled out, due to the ground being too soft to support the weight of the rides.
- Or moving it farther down South Front Street, past Hayes Street to the fourth block, and hosting the festival at Greenfield’s Veterans Park.
Alderman James Roy Pope said, “There’s also an option that we may not have it, if we can’t get the support and the people behind it. “I hope it works out.”
All of the suggested alternate locations have problems that would have to be overcome, including: insufficient space, the availability of sufficient water and electrical hookups; insufficient parking; and the lack of a level, hard surface, which is needed to support the weight of the heavy rides.
But not all property owners on South Front Street are against having the festival at the same location as in years past. “We’ve never had any trouble out of the church, or Brawner’s Boot Store or any of those folks through there,” Pope said. “They’ve always been very supportive.”
“I guess we’re looking at finding a new home, if the festival is to continue,” Pope said.
He expressed uncertainty if any of the suggested alternate locations would be workable, but agreed to investigate the matter, as suggested by fellow board members.
However, Pope told Mayor Cindy McAdams, if an alternate location would result in making the festival smaller, he’d rather not have it, saying he would like for it to go out on a high note with the record attendance enjoyed at last year’s event.
After much discussion, the board decided to investigate the possibility of holding the festival at Veterans Park, located at 204 Akin Street, adjacent to the Greenfield Senior Citizens Center and tennis courts.
This would involve setting up the rides in the parking spaces, which means festivalgoers would have to park downtown and walk to the carnival area.
The cost of installing additional electrical power boxes at the park carrying 400 amps to handle the energy load of operating the rides, game, booths and concessions stands is a consideration that the board must be take into account. Pope said he thought it would cost approximately $2,000 for two 200-amp boxes or one 400-amp box.
Additionally, ball games are scheduled to take place during the festival.
Board members agreed to revisit having the festival at Veterans Park during their March meeting.
The board also approved a motion to contribute $1,000 for the Greenfield Fiddlesticks Festival, which is the same amount allocated in prior years.
During a phone interview on Friday, Pope said, “The festival means a lot to me and my family and a lot of people in Greenfield. We’ve tried and tried every year to keep it going. We have to beg for donations. You get tired of everybody wanting to fight and complain about it. We had a lot of support last year. We had the biggest event we’ve ever had, and the most sponsors we’ve ever had last year. The people really got behind it.
“We really don’t have a committee” Pope said. “It’s just my family, and we do what we can. Whatever financial shortfalls we’ve had, we’ve always paid for it, and made sure the kids had a good time.
“It’s just very disheartening to have something so good, and to think you’re not wanted in your own hometown.
“I don’t know if it’s going to continue or not. We’re kind of homeless at the moment. If they don’t want us there, I don’t know where we would put it.”
“It’s hard to tell supporters to contribute when you don’t know where you’re going to have it or if you’re going to have it,” Pope said.
CDBG Generator Grant
Fire Chief Bob Dudley stated the city applied for CDBG grant to purchase emergency backup generators to operate critical infrastructure. The backup generators would provide electricity in the event of a power outage, due to downed power lines caused by various weather-related events.
This will allow radio equipment to operate at the fire department, police department and city hall. It will also provide power for the city’s water tank and sewer system.
Dudley noted the generators will cost approximately $220,338 and the city will have to spend the money before being reimbursed by the grant.
“I understand the city has the money for our share, which is $27,540 – that’s part of the process for the Declaration of Disaster. The federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost, the state will provide 12 ½ percent, and the City of Greenfield the remaining 12 ½ percent. He stated the city can borrow the $220,338 to purchase the generators.
“It takes 40 weeks to get a generator if we order it today,” Dudley said.
The board agreed to look at how much it is going to cost for the electrical boxes and discuss it at next month’s meeting.
Request to Purchase City Property
Under new business, a request letter from Darryl Webster, who owns property located at 309 and 311 Evergreen Street, stated he wishes to purchase a narrow strip of land between his two lots to join them together.
City Attorney Beau Pemberton said, “The 14 ft. strip of property we’re dealing with here is part of a conveyance the city acquired in 1960.” He noted the adjacent property has been subdivided over the past 62 years and that’s why it has never been used for any city purposes. It’s located between 309 and 311 Evergreen Street. Pemberton explained, although the city-owned strip of land has a gravel driveway, it’s never been declared a city street. The board agreed, if the city decides to sell the lot, it should retain an easement so the city can access adjacent properties, if needed.
Alderwoman Kelli Keylon stated she wants to look at the city’s alcohol sales ordinances to see how it compares to other cities.
“I think we need to look at how we can bring business to restaurants that sell beer,” Keylon. “I’d like to put it on the agenda to look at other cities’ ordinances and update them to be more contemporary with other cities.”
A letter to the Greenfield’s mayor and board of aldermen, read during the meeting, expressed appreciation to local citizens for providing a safe location to house stray animals at Karin’ 4 Kritters Animal Rescue and Shelter, so local animal lovers don’t have to worry about them suffering or lacking in care.
The shelter, located at 1601 Beech Springs Road, which operates on donations, helps alleviate the problem of stray dogs running loose and causing problems.
Since the shelter was formed in 2007, the local city pound, which takes in approximately 100-125 dogs a year, has not had to euthanize any dogs for space.
In the police report, it was noted that one of the police officers has left the Greenfield Police Department on January 28 and been hired at his hometown’s police department. Applications are being accepted for the position.
Mayor McAdams announced City Librarian, Kathy Watson, will be back to work February 15 after being off work for health reasons.
Monthly Sales Tax Revenues
Mayor McAdams stated local sales taxes received during January amounted to $19,049.09 and state sales taxes were $30,352.28, which totals $49,392.37. During the previous month, local sales taxes amounted to $29,389.38 and state sales taxes were $18,357.27, for a total of $47,746.65. This means total sales tax revenue has declined by $1,645.72.
Mayor McAdams announced next month’s meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8.
It should be noted that in a February 16 article on the front page of The Enterprise, “Greenfield Board Considers Moving Fiddlesticks Festival,” none of the business owners along South Front Street complained about having the Fiddlestick Festival. It was only suggested that some kind of compromise be reached to prevent blocking access to certain stores along Front Street. This would involve moving the festival to another location.
During the February 8, 2022, meeting of the Greenfield City Board, discussion centered on the location of this year’s Fiddlestick Festival, scheduled for April 13-16. The area in question is from the intersection of Highway 124 to the Mexican restaurant on South Front Street, which is the same spot the event was held last year.
When local citizens were given the opportunity to voice any concerns they might have regarding the festival’s location, K.K. Robinson, owner of the Violet Rhea & Co. gift shop, stated the festival falls on the week before Easter this year, which is a busy time for her shop. Therefore, Robinson suggested moving the festival to an alternate location, to prevent it from blocking her store or other businesses along South Front Street. However, she did not propose doing away with the festival, only relocating it.
Robinson’s remarks may be heard on a video of the February 8, 2022, meeting on the City of Greenfield’s Facebook page, beginning at approximately the six-minute marker. A summary of those comments are quoted below:
“I’m here, I guess, for the businesses on the south end of town,” Robinson said.
“All of the businesses on the south end of town are full now.
“I know that we have had the Fiddlestick Festival in the south end of town for several years.
“I think the Fiddlestick Festival is a wonderful thing for the kids.
“But, we would like to work out a compromise for the street to be left open, and possibly moving the festival down past Hayes Street, and leaving that open for them to get around the block.
“That is a busy time for myself, because it will be Easter weekend. It’s also a busy time for Elizabeth (Hutchens), as well. I know she has proms going on and things like that.
“So, we’re just asking that you consider compromising, by either, maybe, moving the festival to a different location, or possibly move it past Hayes Street.
“All we’re asking for is some kind of compromise to keep the street open for customers.”
Debbie Wren, proprietor of The Wren’s Nest tanning salon, and Elizabeth Hutchens, owner of Special Occasion Bridal & Formal Wear, did not speak out at the meeting.
It should be stressed that neither Robinson, nor any other business owner along South Front Street, complained about having the festival. Instead, Robinson suggested a compromise that would involve moving the festival to an alternate location.
Board members expressed their desire to keep the businesses on South Front Street open, while continuing to host the Fiddlestick Festival.
Following discussion, the board agreed to revisit the possibility of moving the festival to another location, during their March meeting. Of the various locations discussed, Veterans Park was suggested as a site to be considered by board members.
Both the January and February City of Greenfield Board of Mayor and Aldermen meetings can be found on the City of Greenfield’s Facebook page.
The majority of citizens support the Popes. A tiny minority of business owners should not dictate city policy. There is talk of an organized boycott if Mr. Pope is chased off.
It would be a real shame to lose the Fiddlestick Festival and I sure hope a solution can be reached about this.
A lot of folks don’t know that Greenfield has a history of carnival people living in our town going back to Popcorn Jonnie
maybe further.. The Pope family spans 3 generations in Greenfield and I hope it continues. J.R. Pope has done a lot to give kids and their parents something to look forward to every year and he has grown his show into more than just
concesstions .. He has stepped up to be a real part of Greenfield being a decision maker in city government .Lets continue with the Festival and having a good time whenever we can . We Need It. !
SUPPORT OUR BUSSINESSES
Can the three complainants show what their loss financially is? I can’t help but wonder is their loss greater than the kids and parents that look forward to this event all year. Just curious!