News Column

City approves loan for Sturgis Falls

August 6, 2014

By Mike Anderson, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa

Aug. 06--CEDAR FALLS -- Bad weather during this year's Sturgis Falls Celebration has forced the event's committee to take out a $100,000 loan from the city to pay for outstanding expenses.

"Severe weather greatly impacted major events during the celebration," said Jennifer Rodenbeck, the city's director of finance and business operations, during Monday night's City Council meeting.

The council approved the loan, which Rodenbeck explained will pay for a combination of old and current bills.

"They already had one loan with the city for some electrical improvements that were put in a few years ago," Rodenbeck said, adding about $20,000 remained to be paid from the old loan.

Jay Stoddard, president of the Sturgis Falls Celebration's board of directors, said proceeds from the event over the last 39 years have been used to install a variety of amenities at Gateway Park, including a shelter house, as well as electrical and water utilities.

But advanced flooding of the Cedar River at Gateway Park in the days before the event kicked-off in late June required larger upfront costs than usual, Stoddard said.

"It kind of took a Herculean effort from everyone on our committee to make sure the events continued," Stoddard said.

Work crews were able to staunch the flooding with hundreds of yards of landscape fabric and a layer of wood chips. But stormy weather on the weekend of the event led to the cancellation of the Arch Allies concert Saturday and the Daphne Willis show Sunday. Both concerts were billed as headlining events, and their cancellation led to a sharp fall in food and beverage sales, Stoddard said.

"When the lightning comes out, everything gets shutdown," Stoddard said.

According to Rodenbeck, the loan comes with a .92 interest rate, and will be paid off in four installments of $25,615 starting Oct. 1 next year.

Stoddard is confident the Sturgis Falls Celebration Committee will be able to pay off the loan within a year's time.

The Sturgis Falls Celebration has traditionally been offered free of admission. Stoddard said a few people have asked him in recent days if this could change in light of the committee's recent budgetary difficulties.

"To them I've said, 'over my dead body,'" Stoddard said. "I certainly don't want to be the person to go and charge admission for anything. The reason we don't charge admission is the reason we get the huge crowds we do. It's the largest free event in Iowa. If this even was a two- or three-year-old event, this is something that would give us pause, but not after 39 years."

Next year will be the Sturgis Falls Celebration's 40th anniversary, and Stoddard remains optimistic the event will remain free for another 40 years to come.

"We're looking forward to next year," he said. "There's nothing we could have done about what happened this year. All we can do is be thankful things weren't worse."


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Source: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA)

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