By SHERIDAN CYR
The Apple Harvest Festival Committee faced some setbacks in starting to plan for the upcoming AHF, but town officials are continuing to work through the ongoing reporting procedure issues as plans begin for the 40th anniversary festival this fall.
At the Jan. 22 Town Council meeting, chair Chris Palmieri acknowledged Jim Champagne, who served as festival coordinator for the last 10 years. He is now stepping down from his role.
“Jim has done a great job, especially managing the hundreds of volunteers,” Palmieri said. “I know the festival is in a better place with his leadership, and we appreciate all he’s done for the town.”
Tom Lombardi echoed Palmieri’s remarks. “The Champagne family has left a lasting legacy on the festival. They deserve nothing but praise for the position we are in today, which is the best festival in the state, free of charge and self-sustaining.”
The AHF Committee presented the Town Council with a recommendation for the new sponsorship consultant, Melissa Cocuzza, from “A Balanced Life.” Cocuzza is returning to the position after taking a hiatus.
“She had done a phenomenal job in the past, and it is our pleasure to recommend her back as the sponsorship coordinator,” said Palmieri.
The Committee also recommended a new festival coordinator, and the council approved it, but the person has since retracted his interest. The committee will continue the interviewing process to make a recommendation to the council.
Lombardi then turned the discussion to the AHF financial reports. There have been discrepancies and concerns regarding the way the numbers were reported. A report was given to the council in November, which was later found to be incorrect. An updated report was produced by the finance department and presented in December.
“I take full responsibility for creating some confusion on the fund balance,” he said. “The new committee is focused on moving forward. We have a fantastic method. The new process will be consistent, and all nine of us on the council should be aware of that.”
Councilor John Barry noted that Lombardi, Palmieri, and all other council members serving on their respective committees do so on a volunteer basis. He thanked them for their commitments.
“The festival is a wonderful asset to our community, and it will continue to be,” said Barry. “Thank you for your service. I look forward to the upcoming festival.”
For ongoing news and notices about the 2018 Apple Harvest Festival planning, visit www.southingtonahf.com.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.