Tonight, the Oshkosh Common Council will vote on whether to grant Sawdust Days the only waiver from the city's special event permit fee given out this year. The estimated fee the city is looking to charge is close to 22-thousand dollars-which represents the cost of police protection, street barricades and other city services for the five-day festival.
Of all the events held here in "Event City", Sawdust Days costs taxpayers the most. Ironically, it was Sawdust Days that led to the event permit fee. Councilmembers saw the costs associated with the need for more police presence at Menominee Park after continued complaints about people urinating in neighbors' yards and then some violent crime incidents in the park itself--and decided that "to be fair" organizers of such events should bear the costs associated with bringing those expenses upon the city. Somewhere along the line, however, the Council forgot to charge the inspiration for the fee, the fee.
The Sawdust Days Committee is now playing its ace in the hole--"If we are charged the fee--we won't be able to afford the 4th of July Fireworks!!" Amazing that the ONLY part of Sawdust Days that 99.5% of people living in Oshkosh care about is the ONLY thing that would have to be dropped due to a fee. There's no savings to be had in dropping the, say, Cajun Music Stage--or the Sabor y Mexico Stage or the cheesy midway rides and games?
Sawdust Days is no more or less beneficial to Oshkosh and local charities than the Half-Marathon, the Otter Street Fisheree, the Paine's Festival of Spring or the Spring Pub Crawl. Yet organizers of every one of those events have found ways to cover their permit fees. And it is time for the most expensive of those events start paying "their fair share" (sorry, couldn't resist throwing that back in the progressive folks' faces)
Appleton (which also has fireworks sponsored by Festival Foods), Neenah and Menasha all have one-day-in-the-park events that draw thousands for good pyrotechnic shows. Maybe its time for Sawdust Days to become Sawdust DAY. Just one day requiring police security, barricades and park cleanup--and a much cheaper special event permit fee. Believe me, the vast majority of us won't miss the other four days.