Fourth of July festival's future may be on the line - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Fourth of July festival's future may be on the line

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The Waterfront Independence Festival is celebrating its 15th year, but its days may be numbered if it continues to lose money, which it has since 2008. The Waterfront Independence Festival is celebrating its 15th year, but its days may be numbered if it continues to lose money, which it has since 2008.
Ashley Smith Ashley Smith
The two days of festivities cost a whopping $300,000. The two days of festivities cost a whopping $300,000.
George Timmering George Timmering
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The waterfront is going to be packed for the Fifth Third Waterfront Independence Festival. The two day festival, which is set for Wednesday and Thursday, draws 150,000 people. But, its future is a bit questionable. Putting on a production like this isn't cheap, especially since it's free to the public. The problem isn't turnout, it's how much it costs. That's why the Waterfront Development Corporation is hoping you will open your wallet.

"I have four kids and ya know it's free and everything," said Billie Gean Taylor. Taylor has been coming to the festival for years.

"You gotta celebrate the 4th of July," said Jesse Miller.

But, the fireworks could lose their sparkle in the future.

"We're facing some financial challenges," said Ashley Smith, event manger for the Waterfront Development Corporation.

The Waterfront Independence Festival is celebrating its 15th year, but its days may be numbered if it continues to lose money, which it has since 2008.

"Corporate sponsorship has diminished," said Smith.

Bearno's Pizza is one of the many sponsors. They've been giving for five years.

"If we can afford to we want to be a part of it," said George Timmering, owner of Bearno's.

The question is if the Waterfront Development can afford to keep putting on a 2-day event, when they are facing an estimated $70,000 shortfall this year. The two days of festivities cost a whopping $300,000.

"I wasn't expecting that much," said Miller.

"That's a lot," said Amanda Thacker of Louisville. "Couldn't they be using that money for something else?"

Fireworks alone cost $30,000 for the two days and there are other costs that people may not even think of, like porta potties, lighting and sound, security, trash pick up and the crews that are working are getting holiday pay.

The Metro Council just appropriated $15,000 for the festival.

This year, the Waterfront Development Corporation is getting help from a volunteer organization called Friends of the Waterfront who will be collecting donations to cover costs which is a first.

Jesse Miller said he would donate and even pay to get in.

Smith said all options are on the table to keep the festival alive, but they're banking on people to donate to keep the event free for everyone who wants to enjoy the show. They would also like to keep the event going for two days rather than one.

"Coming down to the waterfront and having your kids look at the 4th of July is a perfect thing," said Taylor.

The festival starts at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Fireworks starts at 10 p.m. If there is a problem with the weather, they do have a plan, but hope to keep the show going rain or shine.

Copyright 2013 WAVE News. All rights reserved.

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