Saturday, October 12, 2013
In a reversal of course from 2012, this year Wick's Pizza was given permission by the city to turn the adjacent parking lots into a "fringe" fest venue operating during New Albany's annual Harvest Homecoming booth days.
Wick's proceeded to spend quite a lot of money for tents, bands, fencing, security, port-a-lets, and all the other little necessities required to stage four days of good quality, locally-based entertainment.
Having done so, Wick's has spent the week experiencing petty harassment from entities ranging from state fire marshals down through city police. The latter evidently made up new rules (see "department, health") governing what folks outside the fenced enclosure are permitted to see, lest the merriment within actually compel them to enter and partake.
The point, at least to me, is yet another indication of the prevailing disconnect during Harvest Homecoming. Having approved the Wick's plan, wouldn't you think that the city would choose to work with the business entity, rather than remain aloof while components of government (in effect) work against the approval? It predictably has infuriated the business and building owner. And yet the city is silent.
Of course, considering the time and effort put into the week by Wick's, most of us instinctively grasp that only one hegemonic structure in town would have any reason to be alarmed, this being Harvest Homecoming itself, which is allowed to occupy downtown for four days in October as the rest of us search for the precise commandment, specific ordinance or cocktail napkin memo enabling the invasive takeover.
Can we please be honest? Harvest Homecoming's extractive business model depends on several things: The city must bear the brunt of infrastructure expenses under a flimsy rationale of economic development -- a rationale that now actively contradicts the principle of downtown revival.
Also, money spent during Harvest Homecoming needs to be directed whenever possible to vendors licensed and approved by Harvest Homecoming, as well as to events held by the festival. If one has only a few days to make maximum bank, then encouraging money to be spent elsewhere downtown is not part of the game plan.
Consequently, given that the Wick's extravaganza in 2013 arguably has been a financial threat to Harvest Homecoming's own riverside plan (and with vastly superior beer at the pizza place) ... even a layman can grasp the nature of the tail wagging this dog. You simply will not be able to convince me that the harassment isn't coming in some part from the orangemen.
Harvest Homecoming turns a deaf ear to complaints by downtown business people, which this year better resemble the roar of jets on the tarmac. City Hall smiles benignly and seeks to avoid involvement, and the rancor multiplies as economic development effort are delineated only with regard to the industrial park, in tandem with the likes of 1Si. It's remarkably ugly behind the facades this year, but as always in a town that is terrified by the most basic discourse, the only thing for sure is that no one will be wanting to talk about it. At all. Not now, and not ever.
And that's the nature of the problem, isn't it?