Sweet Corn Festival wants park plugged in

The installation of permanent electrical service equipment could bring more events than just the Sweet Corn Festival to Marietta’s Muskingum Park.

Marietta Sweet Corn Festival organizers had hoped to raise enough money to purchase an electrical panel for the park when the event moved there last summer, but the price turned out to be higher than initially thought. They’re trying again this year, with a goal of obtaining $6,000 to allow multiple hookups to be installed, said Jessie Bigley, with the festival committee.

“We wouldn’t have to use generators,” she said. “(And) if we are able to provide electric, there are more events that could happen.”

One of those might be the Brick Street BBQ competition, an annual fundraiser for the restoration effort at the recently renamed Peoples Bank Theatre, formerly known as the Colony Theatre.

The event is taking a hiatus this year after funding didn’t come together in time to get it sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, said Kevin Black, general manager of Blacksmith Barbecue in Marietta. But Black, who is helping to organize the Brick Street event, said they will be back in 2014 and he’d like to see the competition take place at the park.

“Every one of the competitors wants shade. And you can only put up so many tents,” he said.

In addition, the Parking Partners lot on Second Street, where the event has been held, is expected to be repaved this year and organizers wouldn’t be able to drive stakes into the new pavement. Plus, the Muskingum River provides a more aesthetically pleasing backdrop, Black said.

“It shows off the natural beauty of Marietta,” he said.

ReStore Marietta executive director Mallory Greenham, who helped put on last year’s Brick Street BBQ, said the move would result in a cost-savings for that and other events.

“Electricity for an event like the Brick Street BBQ is about four grand,” Greenham said. Having electric available or not “could make or break a festival.”

Bigley said the Sweet Corn Festival would still pay the city for use of the electricity, but it would be a savings over renting a generator. The festival needs electricity for the bandstand, food vendors, the pedal tractor pull and craft vendors, among other things.

“Our craft vendors have always asked for lighting, which we’ve never been able to do,” she said.

Marietta development director Andy Coleman said the addition of electric service could also allow area car shows to display vehicles into the evening as well.

“It might also spark new festivals, might see a resurgence in festivals that have come and gone,” he said.

The city doesn’t have a lot of available funding to put toward the project, but once a final cost and scope of work are determined, Coleman said the administration would look to see what it can contribute.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 972 has volunteered to help with the installation, although some work would still need to be done by American Electric Power. Bigley said AEP Ohio would like to have three months’ notice to put the necessary equipment in place, so that allows about a month to gather the needed money so the work can be done in time for the July 19-20 festival.

They’ve already got about $2,000 on hand, Bigley said. Businesses or individuals interested in contributing to the project can contact her at 373-2191 or jabigley@gmail.com.