August 27, 2014

Elyria
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Independents ask for free festival booths

ELYRIA — Like every other candidate, the people running as independents for mayor and City Council are looking forward to the Apple Festival.

It’s a chance to meet and greet more than 100,000 visitors, which is the number event organizers say attend the all-things-apple celebration in the third week of September.

But if independent Elyria mayoral candidate Tim Quinn wants his chance to meet the public, he’ll have to rent a $150 booth instead of setting up in free space provided to Democratic incumbent Bill Grace or Republican John Howard Jr. near the steps of the old county courthouse.

Quinn and independent City Council candidates Mark Craig and Ed Sinegar are crying foul, saying it just isn’t fair.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Sinegar said. “Do they feel threatened?”

Quinn agreed.

“What are we going to do, give people a choice?” Quinn asked.

Craig, an attorney, said he considered filing an objection in court, but he doubts it would be successful because the Apple Festival is not sponsored by a governmental body. Instead it is put on by an independent nonprofit organization run by a board of directors, he said.

Craig is running for the 4th Ward seat held by Democrat Bonnie Ivancic, and Sinegar is running against Councilman Kenneth Burkhard, D-7th Ward, who also serves as president of Council. Another independent, Kevin Krischer, who is running against Councilman Herman Larkins, D-5th Ward, could not be reached for comment.

Craig said the independent candidates still want a meeting with Apple Festival directors in hopes of changing their minds. But Linda Brown, president of the Apple Festival board, said no one has contacted her about a meeting.

Brown said she doubts festival organizers will change their minds about providing free space near the major party candidates because there simply isn’t room. People eat near that area and space is tight, she said.

The festival operators have never excluded anyone in 26 years of operation and it is ready and willing to rent booths to the independent candidates as they have in the past, Brown said.

Other independents have paid for a booth in the past, she said.

“We don’t want to exclude anybody,” she said.

This year, the Apple Festival will be Sept. 21 to 23.

Brown said in her opinion, renting a booth could be an advantage to the independents because they might have better access to the crowd if they are with the rest of the vendors.

There’s a firm rule that candidates cannot mingle.

“They have to stay in their booths, and they can’t come out,” she said.

Contact Cindy Leise at 653-6250 or cleise@chroniclet.com.