Waterville Contributes $25,000 To 50th Roche De Boeuf Festival

Jason Chappuies’ winning logo design will be featured on Roche de Boeuf 50th anniversary T-shirts available for sale during the Saturday, September 23 festival.

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — With less than three months to go before the 50th annual Roche de Boeuf Festival, the Waterville Area Chamber of Commerce board members and executive director Jackie Lehman are nailing down details, recruiting volunteers and securing sponsors.

During the June 26 Waterville City Council meeting, chamber board member Julia Wiley asked council for $25,000 to support the festival.

“This event is not a benefit for the chamber but the entire community,” Wiley said. “I believe a partnership with the city will enhance it for the future.”

The iconic festival is valuable to the city but has witnessed significant changes, she said. Services that used to be donated – including transportation from parking lots to the downtown area – now need to be paid for. Security used to be provided at no cost, but the festival now has to pay regular rates. And volunteers are difficult to find.

“We need to find more folks to help out. Manpower is the scarcest commodity,” said board president Mike Shroyer.

The chamber has relationships with area nonprofit groups that – for a donation – will provide help in setting up and tearing down barriers, bleachers and stages.

Expenses such as paying for golf cart rental, tents, marketing, insurance and bands have all gone up while proceeds have not, Wiley added. 

“We want a safe festival that is welcoming to everyone. If we keep the costs low, we’ll bring in families. We’d like to see the festival grow,” she said.

This year the festival is adding entertainment and expanding its footprint to appeal to all ages, with food trucks in the Parker Square area and a BMX bike presentation on South Street.

One particular problem that needs to be solved by the city is the lack of Wi-Fi in the downtown area. Some vendors won’t return because running credit card transactions without Wi-Fi is impossible, Wiley said.

Administrator Jon Gochenour said he received a quote of $10,000 to cover the entire downtown. He hopes to have a solution by the Saturday, September 23 festival.

Council approved up to $25,000 toward the festival, with the caveat that the chamber provide information on how the money would be spent. Lehman said the funds will help secure more interactive and dynamic entertainment.

In the meantime, the city will work with the chamber to find ways to recruit volunteers for specific jobs. For information on volunteering, visit www.watervillechamber.com.

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