July 28, 2014

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Officials say crowds big at Jamboree, Port Fest

AMHERST — Despite a change of location and a first-time cover charge of $1, last weekend’s Old Time Jamboree in Amherst proved a success, said John Dietrich, president of the Amherst Historical Society.
“We had a lot of good comments and a good turnout,” Dietrich said. “We had other festivals to compete with. The Port Festival was the same weekend.”
Dietrich said he does not know exactly how many people attended but estimated that the turnout was in the thousands.
Organizers moved the venue to the Amherst city parking lot instead of the historic Five Points intersection crossing where town hall was the focal point. The historical society also instituted an admission fee for the first time.
Jamboree Coordinator Kathy Litkovitz estimated the overhead cost of the event was around $18,000 to $20,000.
Revenue from the jamboree will provide funding for the Amherst Rotary Club, St. Joseph Church, Little League teams and the Amherst Historical Society.
Prior to the jamboree, residents had mixed opinions about the change of venue. Amherst resident Sharon Phillips said moving the location helped to free up space and make for a safer atmosphere with less congestion at the downtown intersection.
On the other hand, Mark Obran, who works the espresso machine at Perk Avenue coffee house on Park Avenue said he worried about the loss of business downtown with less foot traffic passing the shops and bars.
Up the road, the Lorain Port Fest saw record numbers for its weekend revelry, which included fireworks and helicopter rides, said Vanessa Knipper Lorain Port Authority marketing director.
Knipper estimated a turnout of around 30,000 for the free weekend event. Knipper said not charging admission makes it hard to track the exact number of attendees.
This year, the Port Fest featured a series of new rides, including a ride that lifted people 35 feet toward the sky, a rooster-shaped 50-foot slide and a kiddy roller coaster.
The Lorain Port Authority defrayed the cost of the event by charging $20 for helicopter rides and tours of the Lorain Lighthouse.
Patrons didn’t have to pay to enjoy the classic car show, live bands and artwork by local sculptor Bud Emerson.
There’s still plenty of action left in the summer for those who may have missed last weekend’s activities. This week, Main Street Vermilion will host Christmas in July, a three-day summer Christmas bash beginning 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Exchange Park.
Contact Ben Norris at 329-7119 or bnorris@chroniclet.com.

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Jason Miller / Chronicle
Amherst teenagers line the stands on Friday at the Amherst Old Time Jamboree.