November 9, 2017

THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES

The Fishers Freedom Festival Comes to an End

 The Fishers Freedom Festival (FFF) has been a long-standing tradition for the City of Fishers for the last 29 years. The festival has been listed as the “Best of the Best” Festivals in Hamilton County, Top 5 Festivals in the State and has been mentioned several times as one of the reasons the City of Fishers has been named one of the Best Places to Live in the Nation over the years. The festival has given the City of Fishers a sense of place and identity and has been a considerable contributor to the quality of life in Fishers. The festival has also been a source of commerce for the city, attracting over 45,000 individuals annually not only from Fishers, but from all over the country.  The FFF’s total of scholarships, school supplies, support of not-for-profit organizations and food distributed to our community residents exceeds $967,915.91.

The Fishers Freedom Festival, which is a public non-profit organization that provided services to the City of Fishers, is very proud of the opportunities it offers to other non-profits to raise funds for their organizations. This year, twelve (12) non-profit organizations participated in the festival and raised a gross income of $41,200.00. For many of these organizations, the festival plays a huge part in their fundraising efforts.

This years’ festival food drive supported the Fishers United Methodist Church’s Come To Me Food Pantry collecting 1,213 pounds of food. 2017 was the highest grossing amount of food collected in one year for the past three years. Although food has been collected since the first festival, tracking didn’t begin until 2010. Since tracking began, food collected during the festival has averaged about 1,100 pounds of food per year.

The Fishers Freedom Festival organization works with the schools and scout troops annually to provide service hours for their youth to meet their community service hour requirements for their clubs, the National Honor Society, student council, Key Club, graduation requirements, and so on. Over 200 students volunteered this year during the festival weekend. Volunteers contributed over 3,000 hours during the festival weekend and these hours do not include the planning, setting up and tearing down.

How have we partnered with and offer opportunities to other not-for-profits to raise funds?

Since 2003, the festival developed partnerships with over fifty-two (52) not-for-profit organizations and have offered them opportunities to raise funds by being parking attendants, picking up trash, helping with set up and clean up and tearing down during our events with over $157,974.50 going to these organizations.

Since 2007, at least seventeen (17) not-for-profits have had the opportunity to raise funds by having a food booth for their organizations, scout troops and/or churches earning over $281,128.41.

The festival organization also collects food during the Fishers Oktoberfest@Saxony and Christmas in October Craft Fair. With those events combined, about another 1,000 pounds of food annually for local food pantries is collected.  When there are 5K Run Shirts, Kiddie Run Shirts, and Festival shirts left over after the festival, they are donated to the Good Samaritan of Hamilton County to distribute to their families in need during their holiday give-a-ways.

In 2000, the “Roy Holland Backpack for Kids” program was created. This program provides less fortunate students within the Fishers school district the needed school supplies and backpacks that they otherwise would not be able to afford. Over 4,000 backpacks with school supplies have been distributed to students in need. The festival works directly with school administrators to make sure these backpacks are given to the students who need them. The “Backpacks for Kids” program is an important and needed program, benefiting the children in their educational success. Each backpack has a value of about $100. The estimated value of the backpacks to the community since 2000 is $400,000.

Prior to 2017, two additional scholarships were also supported: The “Ken Wright Community and Life Scholarship” and the “Roy Holland Memorial Scholarship”. These two programs were not funded in 2017 due to budget restraints.

“Ken Wright Community and Life Scholarship” Two to four high school seniors from Hamilton Southeastern school district were selected each year to receive $1000 each. This scholarship was based on community service, extracurricular activities, and participation in not-for-profit organizations. Since 2003, $32,000 has been distributed for the “Ken Wright” educational scholarships.

“Roy Holland Memorial Scholarship” This scholarship was for a full-time employee of the City of Fishers, their spouses, or children. One scholarship was awarded annually to either a full-time student for $2,500 or a part-time student for $1,250. Since 2003, $40,000 in continuing educational scholarships were distributed through this program. The Fishers Freedom Festival organization is much more than just a community festival. We are proud of what we have accomplished over the last 29 years and the positive impact we have made in the community. This would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors, donors, vendors, the Fishers residents and the city staff. We are forever grateful for the opportunity we had to be able to serve the community of which we all are so proud. 

The FFF organization/event was created with the town leaders for the town residents, as a town/volunteer partnership. The event grew very quickly and in 1998 the organization became a public non-profit so that the organization could begin accepting tax-deductible sponsorships/donations to pay all the expenses related to the event minus the in-kind support from the town/city. Two additional events were created as fundraisers for the annual FFF to support costs. The FFF’s annual budget is around $329,000. From 2008 to 2016, the city’s monetary contribution was $85,000 annually plus the in-kind city staff support. In 2017, the monetary contribution was $45,000 plus the in-kind city staff support.

In January, Jennifer Kehl, the Executive Director, announced to the board and in April to the  committee members that after 27 years she was retiring at the end of 2017. In August, Mayor Fadness and the City Council announced that they would no longer support Fishers

Freedom Festival with monetary funding or in-kind support of city staff, stating that the festival partnership does not fall within the city’s vision. The estimated cost for FFF to pay for city staff and services would be $125,000.

In lieu of these costs, it is with heavy hearts that we must announce that the 2017 Fishers Freedom Festival was the last and will not continue. The volunteers are deeply saddened with the decision and we wish there was another option to take. Unfortunately, without the financial support, in-kind City Staff and service support, and the overall support of the Mayor and City Council, the event cannot continue. This has been a very difficult decision for us to make, but we sincerely hope the City officials will pick up the reins and develop their own event to ensure that residents may continue to come together to celebrate our nation’s independence as a community!

We are very happy to announce that the Fishers Oktoberfest@Saxony in September and the Christmas in October Craft Fair in October will continue in 2018!

Thank you for your years of support and thank you for the great memories we have shared over the years.

 

Sincerely,

The Fishers Freedom Festival Committee Members