Editor’s Note: The author of the article, Rebecca Greene, is the president of the Glen Rock Chamber of Commerce.
GLEN ROCK, NJ – The Glen Rock Chamber of Commerce has postponed the Fall Fair, which normally occurs on or about Sept. 30 annually, in favor of a possible spring fair.
The Chamber’s Board of Directors released the following statement on Sept. 23:
“The Glen Rock Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is deeply disappointed by the need to postpone this year’s Fall Fair. We know that the Fair is always a happy and successful event that brings people to town and offers Glen Rockers an opportunity to connect with one another in a festive venue. The Fair provides local businesses with a way to increase their visibility to residents and thousands of visitors.
"Members of our all-volunteer Board spent significant time and effort trying to organize this year’s event but were unable to surmount some of the town’s insurance policy requirements for individual vendors. As a result, the production company that manages the Fair withdrew their participation just weeks ago, and we had no time to find a replacement.
"Canceling the Fall Fair makes no one happy. But we are pleased that the Council now recognizes the need to find a more flexible insurance approach. We look forward to their establishing clear guidelines for large town events and urge them to do this soon. Our goal is for the Glen Rock Chamber to be able to sponsor a Fair in the future that everyone can enjoy safely and happily.”
Planning for the event derailed during discussions about insurance, according to chamber representatives. While the production company that runs the fair is required to carry insurance, each vendor is required to carry its own insurance, as well as the Chamber. The Chamber, along with a local insurance agent, created an insurance product that would have covered each vendor by July.
During a planning meeting between chamber and borough officials, it was agreed the fair would be smaller in scope for 2018 than the September 2017 event. While all parties were in agreement on the terms of the fair, the insurance requirements and timelines for the production company became too difficult to abide by in mid-July when the production company needed to send out contracts in order to get vendors at the event. By the end of July, the production company backed out due to time constraints.
Both Mayor Bruce Packer and the Borough Council expressed interest in holding an event in spite of the production company backing out and continued to work towards putting one together with the Chamber. But time and safety concerns became an issue, so both parties decided to postpone a town-wide event until spring to iron out all aspects of the plan.
“The Borough is reviewing its insurance requirements with the help of our risk manager to assess whether or not they are more restrictive than they need to be,” Packer said in an email on Sept. 21. “I was extremely disappointed that the vendor walked away without giving the Borough the opportunity to try to make it work for this year. The vendor’s exit, and the subsequent cancellation of the Fair, came as an unfortunate surprise to me and the council.”
During a July work session, the mayor asked the Council to come up with a set of rules by this fall for all town-wide events going forward as a matter of policy. According to the mayor, he is currently pulling together meetings on the matter.
In several meetings throughout the last year, the Council noted the insurance requirements can be constricting on groups other than those that come from the borough itself. The Council gets its requirements on such matters from the Joint Insurance Fund (JIF).
Councilman Skip Huisking recognized that both “the Chamber and the Central Business District group have experienced a number of changes over the recent past. Coupling this in an environment demanding increased security to protect residents and visitors to local events, resources and protocols have to be formalized.”
“The Mayor and Council have been discussing the need to have a formal policy for years. Security is the top priority followed by assuring all groups, whether they are a Glen Rock group or not, are treated fairly and appropriately with respect to costs incurred. An additional concern is if the Borough picks up all the costs, is that fair to tax paying residents who do not take advantage of these events,” he said. “Hence a ‘consistent’ policy needs to be developed and implemented both consistently and fairly to all.”
Huisking said to address the “fairness” issue, some of the criteria discussed for such a policy are as follows:
- Is the organization running the event as a non-profit versus profit?
- What percentage of residents attend versus non-residents?
- Is an outside company handling management of the event and are they a profit/non-profit?
- What are the insurance risks and costs?
- If financial proceeds are generated, who receives them?
Councilman Mike O’Hagan said he was “extremely disappointed” that there would be no Fall Fair this year. “I appreciate all the hard work that went into re-organizing the Chamber this year and I think they’ve been doing an excellent job, it’s just a shame we couldn’t all make the Fall Fair happen.”
While the Chamber and the Mayor and Council continue to work towards a town-wide event, the Chamber is moving forward on planning of town-wide holiday events that will be held over several weeks at various commercial locations, replete with special discounts, a tree and Menorah lighting, and other holiday festivities.