Guest columnist: President Mike Myers comments on Nautical City Festival

Miss Rogers City Miranda Seiter and her court were part of the Nautical City Festival grand parade.
Miss Rogers City Miranda Seiter and her court were part of the Nautical City Festival grand parade.

by Mike Myers–President of the Nautical City Festival, Inc.

As president of the Nautical City Festival committee and contemplating the annual wrap up and reporting on this year’s festival, I want to talk about the positives and touch on the concerns about what has taken place this year.
First, I want to acknowledge the committee made up of members of the five organizations including the Kiwanis Club, Optimist Club, Servicemen’s Club, Knights of Columbus Council 1705 and the Rogers City Area Chamber of Commerce. These folks gave up countless hours and days of their personal time to organize and pull off this great event for our community. Everyone gave what they could to make it happen.
The community also gave so much. Service organizations, groups of individuals, businesses and even individuals, some for years and years and others were brand new to the festival this year. These people took events and ran with them. Without that support, none of this could happen. The events they supported include parades, kids’ games, the car show, three-on-three basketball, juried arts and craft show, meals, card tournaments, bingo, cornhole, volleyball, strawberry shortcake, treats and the list goes on and on. We appreciate so much the efforts of all of these folks as the committee would never be able to do all of these things.
The Presque Isle County Historical Museum and Carmeuse Lime & Stone are amazing supporters of the festival with all they do. The volunteers who staged the Miss Rogers City and Teen Miss pageants did a remarkable job. They deserve the thanks of the community. There are so many to mention that naming names would run the risk of forgetting important contributors.
Even with all of the positives, a couple of concerns need to be discussed. The first is the unexpected presence of the Michigan State Police (MSP) task force. That was not something we anticipated or invited. While I believe our entire committee supports the task force and the MSP’s stated goals, we feel that the timing of its presence was poorly planned and it strayed far from those goals. From what we observed, the task force operated largely in the downtown area. But the “spin” afterwards by a MSP lieutenant from the Alpena post claimed it operated “on the outskirts” of the community.
People were scared off, I believe, and even purposefully boycotted the tent because they presumed the MSP presence was requested and invited by the festival committee. The large financial impact on sales and attendance was substantial and somewhat subjective, but when we crunch the numbers we will have a better sense of that impact. The economic impact on the entire community cannot be ignored.
Ironically, this comes after the MSP public relations trooper in Alpena flatly refused the festival’s polite request to ride in the grand parade. It is odd the MSP had manpower to make these stops with a beefed up presence, but could not make a friendly parade appearance to make a positive impression. In the past MSP troopers, now retired, who were stationed in the area, welcomed the chance to ride in the parade and work with the festival.
Additionally, this year some businesses took advantage of all the aforementioned work and expense done to bring all of the visitors to our community and festival. Some even booked popular bands and set up outside venues in direct competition with the festival tent. That took people away from the festival tent and cost your festival significant revenue. Don’t get me wrong, businesses should profit from the festival, but it is odd for the festival to compete with those who put up direct competition on the prime nights of the Nautical City Festival.
The infrastructure put in place to stage this annual event results in a lot of people and money being spent in this community. Instead of capitalizing on all the traffic in town that is filling up hotel rooms, restaurants and gas stations, some have gone above and beyond to actually pull people out of the tent.
Those alternative events hurt the festival financially and may result in the festival being discontinued. To be clear, the festival must be profitable or it will have to be discontinued. While I don’t believe anyone wants or intended for that to happen, that may be the result.
Lastly, the support the festival has received from the city of Rogers City, Presque Isle County commissioners, both the city police and the county sheriff’s department, department of public works, and yes, the Presque Isle County Advance has been amazing. Without all of your support, we could not do it.
Let’s all continue to work together to help make our festival a success and have many more years of our town’s party.
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(Mike Myers is the chairman of the Nautical City Festival Committee, Inc.)