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By all accounts, the resurrection of Kraut Fest last month was a rousing success, and planning for 2016 is already underway.
Joint Parks Director Jim Svoboda Monday told the Mount Pleasant Village Board that Kraut Fest raised over $67,000 free and clear for the joint park, and he wasn’t shy about admitting funding necessary maintenance projects was the primary goal of the four-day music festival.
“After we looked at the 10-year capital purchases we were going to need and the tight budgets of both Mount Pleasant and Caledonia, we decided to start exploring the possibility of bringing back Kraut Fest,” he said. “I’m very proud of the work we did to make this event a success because we did it without a template and without any taxpayer money.”
Svoboda said he won’t release exact attendance numbers because he wants to keep the news positive, but he did say “it was more than one and less than 50,000.”
“The weekend was a true family event with a lot of smiles,” he added.
Svoboda noted very few problems – only one arrest and four noise complaints – and said this year was a learning experience to make a 2016 event that much better.
There were thanks and a standing ovation for Ray Stibeck and his crew from Route 20 Outhouse, a restaurant he owns at Washington Avenue and I-94.
“We couldn’t have done any of this without Ray, and I know there were times when he thought about walking away, but he didn’t, and I’m grateful for him and the dedicated volunteers who gave up so many hours,” Svoboda added.
President Jerry Garski called Stibeck up to the front microphone to thank Stibeck for his generosity and hard work, which Stibeck acknowledged. But, he added, he was taught that value is attached to people and community so helping organize and bankroll Kraut Fest was just living his values.
“It was a lot of work and was overwhelming at times,” Stibeck admitted. “But in the weeks leading up to Kraut Fest, I would get approached by families at the park who were happy the park was going to finally get some attention. We have to bring back the value of community and Kraut Fest was a good start. It’s about finding worth in more than money. My goal in life is to put people first and find the value in others.”
When he walked away, trustees stood up and gave him a standing ovation.