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— Parks and Recreation Committee members attended Monday’s Chamber of Commerce meeting to discuss the possibility of combining Bulldog Days and the Decatur Barbecue into one festival.

The Gallery Cafe was packed, as a record number of community members attended the meeting to discuss the proposal.

Trip Lapham, Decatur’s Parks and Recreation Committee liaison, presented the idea of combining the two events into one two- or three-day festival. Lapham said he was open to keeping the dates in August or moving them to another time.

Kim Beggs, who serves on the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Chamber of Commerce, commented that Decatur has two very good festivals and combining them would make one great event. She suggested that August was the best date because there are not any other events to compete with and because children are out of school and anxious to find something to do, while in October, kids are busy with school and sports.

“The chamber needs the city and the city needs the chamber ... It would be great if we could work together,” alderman Linda Martin said.

Beggs suggested having the traditional Barbecue events, such as children’s games, beauty contests and entertainment on Friday, followed by a Bulldog Days car show and poker run on Saturday. The carnival could be present for both days, and arts and crafts vendors and concession stands would have two days to make profits possibly attracting more participants.

Food vendors and arts and crafts vendors have a full schedule in October, but have nothing to do in August, Beggs pointed out.

“The Chamber is receptive, but we’re not willing to commit tonight. We need see a plan presented on paper,” Stacy Brooks said. He suggested that Parks and Recreation Committee members sit down with some Chamber of Commerce members and make a clear plan of how the finances and responsibilities would be divided.

“All that needs to be presented and clear to avoid problems later on. The man-power sharing would be a good thing. I can see some advantages, I think there’s a lot of possibility,” he said.

Combining the two festivals has been suggested before, but it was unclear how the finances could be divided. Issues of how to divided profits from vendor fees and food sales led Parks and Recreation Committee members to vote last November to keep Bulldog Days in October.

The Decatur Barbecue made around $3,600 inprofits this year, while Bulldog Days lost several hundred dollars in 2008. Numbers on the 2009 festival have not yet been tallied, Lapham said.

Food is also an issue. The Chamber of Commerce has traditionally sold barbecued chicken dinners and allowed non-profit vendors to sell drinks and desserts. They opened the festival to for-profit vendors for the first time in 2009.

The Parks and Recreation committee depends on concession stands to supply food for Bulldog Days.

“Is it time to switch from chicken?” Beggs asked, pointing out that hamburgers and hot dogs might appeal more to people on a hot day and that chicken is expensive and labor intensive to prepare and serve.

Lester Austin pointed out that many of the chicken dinner sales come from local businesses that buy dinner tickets to give to their employees and clients.

“That (food issue) is a fundamental question. Are we going to open it up to food vendors? Is that going to change? We need to decide that, but I don’t think tonight’s the night,” Brooks said.

Lapham suggested that three or four people from both organizations get together and meet in the next week to brainstorm and start coordinating ideas. The Parks and Recreation Committee will be meeting again at 5 p.m., Nov. 9, at city hall.

News, Pages 1 on 11/04/2009

Print Headline: Decatur Barbecue and Bulldog Days could be combined

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