Naturally, there has been a lot of armchair quarterbacking since news broke earlier this week that the Downtown Dayton Revival was suspended this year.
People, there were more than a few opinions: The cost for the two-day event was too high. The acts were not big enough. The acts were too big. Organizers should have allowed for single-day tickets from the very beginning. Dayton isn’t a large enough community for such a festival. Train sucks. Downtown Dayton stinks. Security measures were overbearing. Organizers were foolish to try to compete with two well-establish ethnic festivals - the Italian and the Greek festivals.
The news came just weeks after officials canceled the First Four Festival that was to take place just before the start of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Dayton hosted the first round.
They say First Four was canceled due to NCAA turnover and sponsorship issues and expressed confidence that the event that drew thousands to the Oregon District in 2012, its first year, will return in 2014.
“This is an event that is important to Dayton and the region,” Mike Martin, president of the Oregon District Business Association, told me. “We need to focus on the positives and look to next year and make an even bigger bang.”
Matt Luongo, president of the Downtown Revival LLC, told me his two-day event was suspended this year because it failed to meet its financial goals in 2012 - its inaugural year.
He has been working to pay vendors still owed money since the day after the festival, he said.
“That’s a byproduct of not meeting our financial goals,” he said. “No one on our (five member) staff has received a paycheck since August. (The shortfall) left us in a situation that we could not get out of.”
Luongo would not say how far he has fallen short in meeting goals. He told my colleague Terry Morris last year that the festival would have an economic impact to the community of $1 million to $4 million.
When Luongo announced the festival, he set a two-day gate limit of 40,000. He predicted between 15,000 and 20,000 people would attend. About 10,000 people attended both days of last year’s festival.
While this is no consolation for the hardworking vendors who haven’t been fully paid, it seems clear to me that neither Luongo, his investors nor the horde of volunteers set out to fail.
“They believe in Dayton and they believe in Downtown Dayton,” he said.
A belief doesn’t put food on the table, but it is far from a bad thing to have.
Like the folks behind the First Four Festival, Luongo says he is going to try to retool and do it again.
It is disappointing that neither festival returned for 2013.
I attended both and I had a great time.
The Dayton area has many great annual events, but these injected a new energy into the city’s core.
Some have called the events failures.
I say hogwash.
Trying something new and cool (even if that thing ultimately doesn’t work out) should be applauded.
Those who try something innovative should be supported and not thumped on the head.
Dayton wouldn’t be the home of aviation if the Wright brothers listened to the armchair quarterbacks after their first attempts at flight.
Try, try and try again.
If that trying doesn’t work, try something else.
What do you think?
Contact this columnist at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth
What readers said on the Seen and Overheard blog about the cancellation of Downtown Dayton Revival:
Andrea — “I am so disappointed that the Revival has been canceled for this year, but also disappointed in some of the comments. This was a fantastic (two-day) event and was well-attended by people of many different backgrounds from different areas within and outside of Dayton. I hope that Downtown Revival LLC can figure out a way to bring this back in the future.”
another fail — “First the First Four Celebration gets cancelled, and now this. The date of the event was totally bad planning. They went up against the Italian and Greek fests. You can’t do that and hope to be successful. They need to pick a weekend and own the weekend. They also need to bring in better acts.
Sad —“I’m sad to see this go. Anyone complaining about $75 ticket prices hasn’t been to many shows lately. Plus, it’s a festival. There are always going to be bands you don’t want to see. You can’t pick and choose. I had an absolute blast year and had hoped the event would continue, but I was worried when I was there that the crowds were too small to sustain it.”