News Column

Learning Centers to continue to run Upland Lemon Festival

June 27, 2014

By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Calif.



June 27--UPLAND -- The Learning Centers at Fairplex has been given the go-ahead on the Lemon Festival through 2017.

The group has operated the festival for the past two years and this week received city approval to continue.

The move does not sit well with the Upland Downtown Organizational Team -- a joint venture of several local nonprofits in the city -- who wanted to take over the management of the annual three-day festival, which celebrates the city's citrus heritage.

"The Learning Center has established a great track record, showing that they are capable of running and operating an event of this magnitude, which no other local group has been able to demonstrate," said Annette Guthrie, executive assistant to the city manager.

The City Council on Monday approved a three-year contract with the opportunity for two, one-year extensions.

Dave Stevens, president of the Cooper Regional History Museum and member of UDOT, asked why there was no request for proposals to operate the event.

"We applied for it last year," he said. "We're doing an Oktoberfest this year to show you what we can do. I would hope that you hold off on this and let the nonprofits in downtown show what it can do."

But Guthrie said the city council approval the prior year was to allow the centers to produce and manage the 2014 Lemon Festival and to continue to do so until the event no longer makes business for them.

It is estimated that 55,000 attended the three-day festival, which resulted in $15,500 being donated to four local charities.

The festival was founded in 1997 and has grown into a three-day downtown event that offers many food and business vendors, a lemon theme food, performances, kids' activities, carnival rides and games.

Councilwoman Debbie Stone said she understood the concerns of the group but voted to extend the contract given the success and the city's financial status.

"Somewhere down the road maybe it will work," she said.

In 2011, when Main Street Upland Inc, the association that had previously organized the festival, went bankrupt Upland took over operations. It did it again the following year and in 2013 brought in the Learning Centers, despite opposition from the local group.

This marked the first year that the city manager's office did not receive any complaints about the festival, Guthrie said. Given the overall success of the event, Guthrie said, staff recommended a longer contract.

The Learning Centers contracted Upland to put on the event, utilizing police, street clean up, fire and fire inspection services, generating $21, 418 in revenues. As part of that total, the centers also paid $3,981 in business license fees.

As part of the contract, the centers give a portion of the proceeds back to the community. Information about the available funding was posted on the city's website and on Facebook for about two months. The city manager's office received 11 applications when the period closed on June 16, Guthrie said.

The following four nonprofits were selected as beneficiaries: Upland Community partnership Foundation and Upland Rotary each received $7,000, Upland Library received $1,000 and the Foothill Family Shelter got $15,500.

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(c)2014 the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.)

Visit the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.) at www.dailybulletin.com

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Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (CA)


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