Woodstars Summer Carnival and Music Festival came and went last month with no safety or security issues. That’s the good news seeing as how both the event and the safety of its attendees seemed like a crap shoot up until the eleventh hour.
Despite claims by Keoki Allen, a chief organizer, that the festival was well organized, it was anything but. It secured itself a spot at Proviso East a week before it was to be staged and the Cook County Sheriff’s Police had to scramble to figure out a security plan.
Fortunately the much smaller than anticipated audience was well behaved, and not a single arrest was made, as Tim Curry, Maywood’s police chief pointed out.
After the festival ended, organizers declared victory over skeptics and worrywarts – the press and a portion of the public – by touting the event’s success.
Chris Welch, Proviso District 209 school board president, said in an email that based on “feedback” he had received, Woodstars “was an amazing success for the Proviso community.”
Allen – who selectively responded to our questions about the event – said the festival will be “the first of many” intended to raise funds for Proviso East High School. Proviso East is designated to receive the proceeds from the event – if there are any proceeds.
Before holding any future fundraisers, the organizer, A’jensee 3.1.2. Co., needs to tell the public, especially Proviso Township and Cook County taxpayers, exactly how they define success and how they tote up profits.
In other words, was Woodstars profitable; or, will taxpayers get stuck with costs promoters can’t cover because only a quarter of the anticipated audience of 20,000 showed up throughout the weekend. And, will Proviso East get any money?
Allen neither returned phone calls nor responded to an email seeking answers to these questions. What’s more, when we asked D209 how much money was raised for Proviso East, spokeswoman TaQuoya Kennedy said we should contact Allen. Round and round we go.
We do know that the cost of security provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Police alone was $116,000, according to Steve Patterson, a spokesman for the sheriff.
“At this point, we are unsure if county taxpayers will be reimbursed as a result of the costs incurred by this private event, as was discussed,” Patterson said.
There were also costs for other security, for the carnival, for equipment, performers, the space, the list goes on and on.
In short, this was a noble cause, and hopefully it was a profitable one. But, if it’s going to be “the first of many,” the promoters need to be better organized; and they still have a lot of explanations to provide.