Belmont reinvents city festival

While the venues and events may change, Belmont officials hope to prove that city pride lives on in new forms.

On Tuesday, the Belmont City Council gave the go-ahead to end the Belmont Festival, the two-day community event traditionally put on by the city and the Chamber of Commerce. But in its place, with the help of city-donated space and fee waivers, a new celebration, the Save the Music Festival, will begin on October 14.

Two years ago, the chamber’s Belmont Community Festival and the city’s Belmont Art and Wine Festival merged into the Belmont Festival to support each other against declining attendance and public interest.

But attendance continued to fall, a decline chamber President Ron Denman attributed to the glut of similar festivals along the Peninsula.

The city pulled out of the festival because the Parks and Recreation Department was using up 400 hours of staff time a year — worth approximately $20,000 — coordinating the event.

“Art and wine festivals as such have become overdone replicas of one another, offering many of the same arts, crafts and activities,” Parks and Recreation Director Adam Politzer said.

But while the festival was shrinking, the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District’s Save the Music festival was attracting enough attention to raise approximately $54,000 in two days in 2006.

The chamber proposed the idea of a partnership, and the Save the Music Festival, a one-day event, was born. The city will waive $7,888 in fees for the event, the chamber will provide booths for local businesses and traveling vendors, and the music program will provide the entertainment.

School-Force, the nonprofit district group that created Save the Music, plans to present bands from nearby schools, local musicians and some surprise guests in October to entertain the 7,000 people they’re hoping to attract.

If the festival succeeds, the city hopes to expand it beyond the one-day event.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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