Controversy closed: AHF Committee ready for Friday opening

Apple Harvest Festival



The Apple Harvest Festival Supervisory Committee held their last meeting before the big event on Thursday at 4:30 P.M. at Town Hall. According to officials, all the early controversies have been resolved, and everything is ready for opening ceremonies on Friday.

Even the weather outlook is good for the first week of the annual festival.

Jim Champagne, festival coordinator, reported a record profit on vendor booths at $91,606. Nearly all booths have paid their fees at this time. Two booths have dropped out, and one of those two has been replaced.

Officials said that the controversy, which was raised to the public level at the Aug. 21 Town Council meeting, has been resolved amicably for all parties.

Independent candidate for Town Council Jack Perry raised concerns at the meeting during Public Communications regarding his campaign booth at the festival. He said that he was “being censored from the Southington people,” and said his application for a booth was mishandled.

Campaign booths for the Democrats and Republicans cost the non-profit fee of $750. For-profit organizations pay a price of $2,500. Perry said he filed his application on time, but a neutral third-party told him there was a delay in his application’s processing that led to his being charged the higher price.

At that same meeting, Town Attorney Mark Sciota responded, “We are committed to making this right,” assuring that the next AHF Supervisory Committee meeting would include a presentation covering all emails, documentations and transactions made during the process of Perry’s application.

In an email to the Observer, co-chair of the committee, Tom Lombardi, reported that the booth issue had been resolved and Perry obtained a booth for the non-profit price. “I feel strongly that all political applications should be treated equally,” the co-chair said in the email. “I had no doubts that the situation would be resolved and am glad that we came to a solution and can focus on the operations and another successful year at the Festival.”

With the controversy settled, the committee was able to turn its attention to the final details of the festival at their final meeting.

Champagne reported that signs directing parking lot closings are in place, that tents have been ordered, credit card machines have been delivered, dumpsters, wastebaskets and portable toilets have all been ordered, and Durants Party Rentals is in place to set up the carnival in the Bank of America parking lot.

In the past, overhead wires over Riccio Way have been an issue. Champagne said, “The highway department did all of the digging, Tomasso paved it, and Eversource put in the conduit, so there is no more problem with the overhead wire.”

Greg Walsh of WalshPR, sponsorship coordinator of the festival this year, updated the committee on the festival’s social media presence and reach.

CBS Networks, one of the platinum sponsors this year, made a 30-second radio commercial for the festival. “We get 30, 30-second spots for the next two weeks on all four of their stations, so a total of 120 commercial spots,” said Walsh. The radio stations are 96.5 WTIC, Light 101.5, Hot 93.7 and WTIC News Talk 1080.

Walsh reported that Frontier has donated two TVs for the use of the festival that will show digital calendars of events at the festival. The TVs will also play 15- and 30-second commercials for platinum package sponsors.

“In total, we have 36 sponsors altogether, 16 of which are brand new to the festival,” said Walsh. That’s 10 more sponsors than last year. Platinum sponsors include Cox Communications, CBS Networking and Liberty Bank.

AHF’s social media presence has been steadily climbing, according to Walsh. They are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube and have their own website where the bulk of information about the festival can be found.

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