Riding on the wave of successful 2012 Ice Festival, Utica is already in the planning stages of a summer bash to celebrate the city’s Riverwalk and downtown businesses.
The first ever Utica Riverwalk Festival is set for July 6-8. The inaugural festival will include two days of spectacular fireworks, a carnival, a classic car cruise and parade.
Utica’s Downtown Development, which is made up of Utica business owners, has taken the lead on planning and funding the festival.
“Like they say, ‘you have to spend money to make money,’” said DDA member and Cass Bar and Grill owner John Sattman at last week’s meeting.
The DDA is looking for corporate sponsorship to pay for the $10,000, two-night, professional fireworks show, but the DDA has agreed to guarantee the funds if sponsorship is not materialized.
“Are we taking a gamble? Yes, we are. But it’s an event that brings people down to Utica,” said Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan, who made mention of the wild success of the winter evening firework show during the Utica Ice Festival last month.
Ron Currant, vice president of the Sterling Heights Chamber of Commerce, said the fireworks will entice daytime festival-goers to stay in town longer to catch the evening’s fireworks.
Sattman told the DDA that it takes a lot of work to pull off a festival of this magnitude and rally in sponsors, but it’s doable.
“I think we have time from now until the festival to come up with the money. It’s work. If we have people looking to put in the legwork and knock on some doors, it can be done,” said Sattman.
The festival is still in the beginning stages of planning, but the DDA has agreed to assure there will be fireworks shooting above the Utica sky July 6 and 7.
The DDA's plans to fund the two-days of fireworks still needs to be approved by the Utica City Council before it becomes final.
Other plans in the works are live music, a piggy race down the Clinton River and possibly hot air balloon rides.