Big Changes Coming For 'It's Better In Mentor' Festival
The carnival rides and late September date are out; city looks to replace them with emphasis on neighborhoods, local businesses and community building
The It's Better In Mentor Festival will look very different next year, said Bob Martin, the city's director of Parks and Recreation.
It will be in a slightly different location, shorter, held in the summer as opposed to early fall and, most importantly, it will have a different focus.
"We're looking to make this truly a community-focused event," Martin said.
To that end, the city is ditching the carnival rides, even though the rides have traditionally been the festival's biggest money makers.
Instead, the city hopes to focus on the things that truly make Mentor different from other communities.
So instead of inviting the usual cavalcade of carnival games into town, all the games will be run by local PTAs, churches, student groups and other organizations as fundraisers.
"We'll charge a low fee for the booths so we can get as many organizations as possible to participiate," Martin said.
Additionally, the merchant's tent will highlight local businesses.
"No offense to the Pampered Chefs and Avons -- there will be a place for them somewhere -- but we're going to focus on Mentor businesses," Martin said.
"There are so many companies in Mentor that a lot of our residents don't even realize what they do," Martin said. "So the idea is to go the companies -- big and small -- and invite them to participate.
"It will be similar to a trade show and these businesses will get to show off what they do. We want to make everyone as proud of your business as you are."
But this doesn't mean IBIM is turning into a trade show. There will still be plenty of room for fun.
The festival will have inflateables and climbing walls to replace the departed carnival rides.
Furthermore, the city is hoping to set up a series of competitions -- obstacle courses, recycling regattas, tug-of-war and more -- for businesses and neighborhood groups.
"We're going to encourage people to compete in neighborhood groups so hopefully people can get to know their neighbors a little bit better."
The timing and location of It's Better In Mentor will also be different.
The 2013 festival will only be two days, Aug. 23 and 24. Additionally, instead of sprawling across the property of Mentor City Hall and Mentor High School, the festival will mostly be in Civic Center Park by the amphitheater and in front of the Mentor Ice Arena.
However, not everything is changing about IBIM. The festival will still feature performances from local karate, dance and gymnastics studios. The city will still host the annual parade, pancake breakfast and 5-kilometer run.
"We're not throwing out the baby with the bathwater," Martin said. "We're taking a hard look at things that will build the community."
The city has been discussing possible changes for IBIM since March. The discussions began when City Councilman Ray Kirchner said the festival had become generic with the same food and rides as many other summer festivals.
Many other Council members agreed that the festival needed a new direction.
However, the decision was made not to change IBIM for this year. That way the city had more time to adjust to the changes and the newly revamped festival would coincide with the city's 50th anniversary.
Any businesses or organizations that want to participate or volunteers that would like to join a festival committee can call the Mentor Parks & Recreation Department at 440-974-5720.