08-15-2019 Impact Watervliet; Coloma Glad-Peach Fest discussed at council meeting; Watervliet na

FIRE DEPARTMENT IS THE COMMUNITY… Attendees to the 100-year celebration Open House of the Watervliet Fire Department (WFD) hear Fire Chief Dan Jones (right) give a short history of the WFD, and Chaplain Brian Hall, pastor of Watervliet Free Methodist Church, speak on how the fire department is more than just a part of the community, it is the community. More than 100 people visited the open house, held last Saturday afternoon, where they looked over historic photos of fire department events and personnel, met local firefighters and then enjoyed a meal which included hotdogs, hamburgers and salads. (TCR photo by Teresa Smithers)

Coloma Glad-Peach Fest discussed at council meeting

By Nancy Albright

Coloma resident Harold Bragg opened a dialogue with the city council on Monday night, Aug. 12 to address low attendance at this year’s Glad-Peach Festival.

“In the past the festival has been so crowded that you had a hard time walking through,” said Bragg. “This year it seemed there were more police than people. I don’t want people to throw up their hands and let it go. I would like Glad-Peach to be successful and continue on every year.” Bragg suggested that the festival committee cultivate what is working now, like the foam pit, stories for children, the library book sale and the magician, and address issues that need work.

Coletta’s Closet owner Denise Donohoe said that the foam court sponsored by the church was delightful, but that it was only in operation for one hour. “I sponsored the magician this year because no one else invited him. That is horrible; it’s the man’s livelihood.” She reported that there were moving vehicles in the blocked off section of the street, including golf carts. “It’s a bad move and shouldn’t be allowed. Also, I wouldn’t put my kid in one of those rides for all the tea in China; they would need a tetanus shot. Those carnies are not the image we want to project.”

She went on to say that that there is no festival signage, the festival website has not been updated since 2016, and that vendors should not be allowed to start packing up until five minutes after the festival ends. “It can’t hurt to have new ideas.”

Donohoe also said that the stage was not removed until 1:30 p.m. on Monday which caused a parking issue.

Bragg observed only a half dozen people or so dancing near the stage at this year’s festival, which was moved to one end of the street. He suggested moving the stage back to the center of the festival to encourage “dancing in the streets”, and the committee considers music for all age groups, such as a polka band for middle-age festival goers; dance competition for teenagers; and dance performances. “Inviting professional dance studios like Citadel from Benton Harbor and Dance Arts from Stephenville where the dancers are from all over the area might draw people from other towns.”

Bragg informally polled some festival goers and learned that there was no announcement that the kiddie parade had been cancelled, there was no advertising on COZY-FM, and brochures were not distributed. He suggested that next year the committee distribute brochures to Coloma businesses, and businesses in other communities like the Mason Jar in Benton Harbor, which according to Bragg is always crowded.

In conclusion, Bragg said that the bright spots were the foam ring and the book sale at the library, which was the largest in memory. He also thanked the police force for their positive attitude and public works for an outstanding job. “Our public works department is second to none. You wouldn’t have known anything had even taken place the day before. The city was spotless.”

Mayor Polashak commended the Coloma Police Department and Department of Public Works for all their hard work at the festival. “You guys were great.”

Police Chief Wes Smigielski reported there were no major incidents at the festival, aside from excessive incidents addressed by police officers of kids being rude and starting fights. The chief also said that he plans on attending the festival committee meeting.