McDermott: Festival of the Lakes 'one of the better years we had'

2012-08-26T00:00:00Z 2012-08-26T23:18:06Z McDermott: Festival of the Lakes 'one of the better years we had'By Chelsea Schneider Kirk, (219) 933-3241

HAMMOND | Festival of the Lakes generated an estimated $381,000 in sponsorships this year, accounting for more than half of the revenue brought in by Hammond's summertime event.

“It was probably one of the better years we had. ... We're out to break even basically and to have a great five-day festival every year in the city,” Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said.

Parking fees accounted for more than $66,000 in revenue with the revamped carnival bringing in $54,371, according to figures provided by the city's controller's office.

The beer gardens generated $42,156, and special events held in conjunction with the festival, such as the Hammond Marina's Polka Party, drew in a combined $4,700.

McDermott said any profit made off the festival is placed in a perpetual fund, and the remainder is used to help pay for the next year's festival.

“I remember the first year of the festival I donated $200,000 out of (the mayor's gaming fund,) and we went for like five years with that money because you spend it and make it back,” McDermott said.

McDermott said this year the night with the lowest return on the city's investment was Classical Rock Night on the Thursday of the festival.

“The big money loser night was the symphony,” McDermott said. “And we knew that. The symphony was expensive, but we wanted to class it up a little bit.”

However, Country Night saw a decent attendance with a large crowd for Gretchen Wilson, McDermott said.

McDermott started the festival in his first term as mayor to replace the city's former AugustFest. Since then, the festival has grown to attract entertainment like MC Hammer and Boys II Men.

He said plans are already in the works to bring high caliber acts next year to the Pavilion at Wolf Lake in celebration of the festival's 10th anniversary.

“In my opinion, we go to to go big next year,” McDermott said. “I would like to get one major act.”

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