Crothersville Red, White & Blue Festival Calling It Quits

iNext month’s Red, White & Blue Festival in Crothersville will be the last, according to festival organizer Sherry Bridges.
The community patriotic celebration began on Flag Day weekend in 1976 as Crothersville’s celebration of the nation’s bicentennial. It has been held on the second weekend of June for 43 years.
Bridges, who has been the key festival organizer for nearly the past 20 years, said the festival demise was a result of increasing costs, decreasing revenues, smaller crowds, and a lack of local volunteers to organize the event.
The attendance has dropped off the last few years, she noted. “Folks used to sit six rows deep yards along Preston Street,” she observed. “Where are these people now? The majority of them have passed on. Young families are busy with activities with their children that takes them out of town many weekends including the second weekend in June.”
With a decline in attendance means that our profit from the carnival and booth rental has decreased, she said.
The cost of putting on the festival has tripled over the past 10 years, she said. The costs for electricity, trash removable, permits, insurance and costs of events and attractions for the three-day festival have increased dramatically.
As an example, the Indianapolis Colts in Motions exhibit formerly would visit communities for free. “They purchased a new trailer for their exhibit this past year. To offset the purchase it now costs $500 for them to visit the RWB,” she said. “That is not in out budget.”
Fireworks are a great attraction for the festival and a wonderful way to conclude each year’s patriotic salute, she said. “But a 20-minute fireworks show costs $3,000.”
Corporate donations have decreased, she said. “We know our corporations and businesses are community minded. They have a budget and increasing requests from other local organizations means they must cut back their traditional contribution to the festival,” said Bridges.
“Ours is a small town festival and we have kept the booth rental fees at a minimal. We give a discount to Vernon Township residents and special non-for profit groups to encourage their participation,” said Bridges. “We haven’t raised out booth fee for over 10 years in order to attract and keep local organizations.”
There is a lack of interest in the volunteer organizational effort.
“We have been a small committee for a number of years. It’s a lot of work for 5 or 6 people to pull off,” she said adding that there is a tremendous amount of work and time that goes on behind the scenes that has to take place before the carnival pulls in. “No community festival anywhere ‘just happens’,” said the longtime organizer.
“We know that many local organizations and school groups have depended on the RWB crowds to fund their activities,” Bridges said. “This was not an easy decision to make.”
The final Red, White & Blue Festival will be June 6-8.