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The Daily Tar Heel

Town to Evaluate Apple Chill Setup

Size and cost are issues to be investigated

Officials will consider the town manager's proposal to have the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Commission, a public advisory board, examine the Franklin Street festival.

Town resident Eunice Brock of 319 Burlage Circle petitioned the council in late August with concerns that Apple Chill and Festifall, a similar event held this weekend, cater primarily to an out-of-town clientele and drain local revenue.

Kathryn Spatz, director of the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department, said she thinks Festifall should be investigated as well.

"I think an evaluation process is a healthy thing to do," Spatz said.

She said an evaluation could give the department ideas of how to better the annual event and improve its communication.

In the past she has met with clergymen from local churches who are concerned that the festivals hurt their Sunday attendance and that changes could be made to the festival to assist churchgoers, she said.

She said that public input is important as decisions are made on the future of these events but added that if the town is not supportive of the event, it should be ended.

"If the majority of the community doesn't want the event ... then I think the town should change," she said.

She said the town could explore other locations for the fair but that those might not have the same allure as Franklin Street.

"It couldn't possibly have the same flavor," she said.

Town Council member Flicka Bateman said that officials should first determine the purposes of Apple Chill and Festifall.

"I want to know what the goals of Apple Chill and Festifall are," Bateman said. "Knowing that helps determine what kind of street fairs we have."

She said that while she does not think Apple Chill should be ended, the festival should be evaluated to determine how much it costs the town annually compared to the expenses of communities with similar fairs.

"I just want to know the validity of how much money is going into these street fairs," she said.

She added that she thinks the parks and recreation department should not be the sole evaluators of the event.

Town Council member Bill Strom said there are communities in the state that would love to have the crowds generated annually at these events.

But Strom said that while he enjoys the festivals, data collections and public input will help determine what aspects need to be bolstered.

"We love to discuss ... things in Chapel Hill," he said. "There's a tremendous amount of information that needs to be gathered.

"You can always improve and adjust."

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