Waterfront 4th of July Festival in jeopardy - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Waterfront 4th of July Festival in jeopardy

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The 2-day Fourth of July Festival needs funding if it is to continue beyond 2013. The 2-day Fourth of July Festival needs funding if it is to continue beyond 2013.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The crowds are second only to Thunder Over Louisville. But this year's Independence Day Festival on the Waterfront may be the last.

The event needs more sponsors to help foot the bill.

The Waterfront Development Corporation says it lost $70,000 on last year's Independence Festival. If it can't plug that hole, on the next 4th of July, the Great Lawn may look empty.

"There is a concern about it," said David Karem, president of the Waterfront Development Corporation.

The free event attracts 150,000 people to the waterfront. That's a crowd second only to Thunder Over Louisville. But the problem is not necessarily a shortage of people. It's a shortage of sponsors.

The waterfront agency has raised only about half the $300,000 cost of this year's festival.

"It's a big event for the community. I hope the community gets behind it. I hope local government gets behind it," said Karem.

The city has kicked in funding in the past, but it's not likely to happen this year.

"We support it with services, obviously. So there's increased costs for trash pickup, recycling, public safety, etc. So, there's not a lot of discretionary money," said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

Part of the problem could be marketing. Several people we talked to at Waterfront Park had not heard of the Festival. And its possible loss got a mixed reaction.

"There's a lot more other things you can do in this city. I mean, it's not just the July 4th Festival," said one man.

"It's something that the city needs. During the summer, people need things to do," said another.

For the first time this year, there will be donation stations set up so people can contribute if they choose.

But what about charging a fee for the event?

"If you start charging, it changes the entire complexion of the event, and it's just not necessary. I hope we never have to do that," said Karem.

"If there's 150,000 people that come, and it's a dollar per, obviously that takes care of a big part of the expenses but we're not considering that right now. We want to try to keep it free," said Fischer.

Karem says a decision about next year's festival must be made by late fall.

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