With signature events hanging in balance, city supports Olive Festival

Hollister council members Monday voted 4-1 to approve a request to host the 2017 Olive Festival at the Brigantino Spray Field Facility next October.

According to the meeting’s agenda packet, the San Benito Olive Festival Board of Directors was seeking the following:

• An area to host the event on the property that’s free of holes
• Potable water and electricity
• Use of city signage and barricades
• Reduced fee for the use
• Reduced permit fees
• Assistance in marketing the event

The agenda packet states that the financial impact is unknown at this time.
During the meeting, City Manager Bill Avera said that staff wouldn’t be able to take care of some of the building permit fees and health department fees.

“We’ll try to work with them as best we can, but some of those things are taken care of by outside agencies,” Avera said.

While discussing the details of the festival board’s request, Avera said their idea was for the city to be more of a partner or co-sponsor rather than purely a facility owner.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said the council should be working toward how to host the event one time.

“With this type of setup, since we’re still working toward the (park) plan for the facilities out there, we should be working toward figuring out how to do this for this event, this one time,” Velazquez said. “Let that event grow and see what happens there as we move toward our final plan, rather than putting so much money into some utilities we need or different things.”

Councilwoman Mickie Luna commended the festival board, members of which attended the meeting, for being inclusive of local nonprofits.

“I think this is a start,” Luna said. “I hope sooner than later it could become another Gilroy Garlic Festival.”

Councilman Ray Friend said the event was exciting.

“This thing has the potential to be a rally in the winter time,” Friend said. “It could really be something special.”

Councilman Roy Sims agreed with Friend, but said he’d like to know some potential costs.

“I would like to know some potential costs because we just tentatively cancelled an airshow because of $20,000,” Sims said. “That was an event that seems to be one of our signature events. I don’t want to be coming back in a couple years saying, ‘Well we got behind it, but it’s not doing well. So let’s cancel it because of $20,000.’”

Sims stressed that he felt the festival was a great event, but he was also the lone vote against it. City council members are also considering whether to continue with Hollister’s biggest event, the July motorcycle rally.

Councilman Karson Klauer asked Avera if the festival would operate like a street festival similar to Lights On Celebration organized by the Hollister Downtown Association.

“It would function very similarly to the street festival and Lights On Parade and some of the other parades,” Avera said. “Homecoming and those things, we do go out and set up barricades. We don’t necessarily get reimbursed for that time, so to speak.”

Avera said it kind of depends on how many volunteers the festival board gets.

“The things that we do care about is staking and identifying where the sprinkler heads are, because those are true costs for us if something happens there,” Avera said. “Other parts of it, it’s probably whether or not they have the manpower to do it the day before or if they want us to do it.”

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