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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, .

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 by the amphitheater and in front of the .

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 . 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 . That way the city had more time to adjust to the changes and the newly revamped festival would .

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.

Kathy Adult September 11, 2012 at 10:59 AM
I can see this event going the same way as the perch fest.
Real Estate Agent in Mentor September 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Very sad to see that Mr. Martin states that local community members who sell Pampered Chef are not welcome. These people are entrepreneurs who are building businesses within our community. We have many entrepreneurs within the community that are active and generating income that ultimately generates revenue that pays for Mr. Martin's salary. Interesting that he feels this way.
Kerri September 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Booooo....when I moved to Mentor I loved this festival - it was different than the standard "walk around and look at stuff that hoarders like to take home". It was actually fun. I looked forward to going. I will not be going next year...no rides - what the heck?
christina September 11, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Everything is worth a try, and if it doesn't work Iam sure they will try again! Never hurts.
Mary Jo Stack September 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM
It's about time. A festival about Mentor. I look forward to the changes.
Katie September 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I will definitely not be going next year! This is sad. I've been going there since I was a little girl (my whole life) its a shame they are changing it up. The kids & families look forward to the rides, games & food. Very disappointing.
sue September 11, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I understand where the City of Mentor is trying to go with this. The last few years this festival has gotten a litte run down. A face lift IS needed. Hopefully it works. I wil truly miss the carnival rides and their lights and sounds glowing over the area. This has been a tradition as long as I can remember! I just hope the city really puts some time, effort and money into the new look. First impressions are everything. Since the city has so many people upset about the changes, I hope they hit this one out of the park! To those on the planning committee .......please do this right. Please make this fun and exciting for your neighbors! Please put the time and effort into it to make it a huge success! Do it right or don't do it at all! -Thank you.
Jodie Dalrymple September 11, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Mr. Martin did not say you are not welcomed. He stated that there will be a place somewhere.
HLYWDIANA82 September 11, 2012 at 01:51 PM
He did not state that they wouldn't be welcome. If you read it he states that there will be room for them somewhere but that the merchant tent will be used to focus on Mentor businesses. Not that the people running Pampered Chef businesses aren't, but I believe those businesses get most of their clientele from "parties" not booths at fairs.
scott bricker September 11, 2012 at 03:02 PM
They should leave a few rides.. especially for the kids. Does Martin Hate kids or something? It makes it look that way. Sure change some things around..nothing wrong with that.. but keep some rides, have local restuarants bring there food...have the "Smash the police car" (I remember that in the mid 80s)..dunking booth.. fun things from the past. Still the main things that people want to see there is: 1. Local Food from businesses... 2. Rides for the kids.. (you have to keep the kids happy) 3. Things to do (instead of looking at small booths of local businesses that 90% don't care about) 4. Fireworks on the final night? Going to Aug is a good thing..making it 2 days is a good thing.. but the rest.. I don't know.. Better in Mentor Days... shouldn't be Boring in Mentor Days.. Keep it fun
mentor res September 11, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Thank God the Carni Rides will be gone. I rather have my kids on the inflatables instead of the unsafe rides!!!!!
Mr. T September 11, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I can't wait for the "re-vamped festival" I feel like I could list the festival attractions from the past 35 years off the top of my head because they were the same every year!!
Jim J. September 11, 2012 at 04:42 PM
They're just sick of attracting teenagers/"hooligans" to the festival, by making it sound boring like this they're sure to draw the crowd with the least amount of disposable income, great success!
Nicole Starke September 11, 2012 at 08:43 PM
It's a shame that they're getting rid of the carnival rides. My kids and their friends look forward to this every year. This sounds terribly boring, I doubt we will attend.
Janet Hoffman September 11, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I think they should just have a bunch of cars in a huge traffic jam. That best represents this city. Oh and don't forget the road construction signs.
Mike September 12, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Great idea and long overdue. This festival needs to be about the Mentor community. The IBIM committee was never open to letting local restaurants and business into the festival. I know from first hand experience. The new direction and energy is greatly needed. Carnival rides are for the county fair and church festivals which are all around the same time of year. I hope this works out great for the community and look forward to the new event next year. My family will be attending rides or no rides.
Don in Mentor 36 yrs. September 16, 2012 at 11:24 AM
I couldn't agree more. Attendance will definitely go down, kids will have very little interest in going and it will be discontinued ....as the perch fest. Poor Idea....just watch the attendance in a year or two..
Don in Mentor 36 yrs. September 16, 2012 at 11:34 AM
The mentor mall did the same thing. Vendors from Chruches and business, with literature about why you should attend their Church or purchse from their business. I found it very annoying, let alone pay to attend an event like this. Bad Idea...
pam September 16, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I think that will be the last of it. Sounds like it is going to be awfully boring. I dont think it would ever pick back up after that because people will remember it that way. If it has been working why change it. Kids need something to do too. When they see the rides they get their parents who normally wouldnt be going to take them.
richard willis September 23, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Ive been taking my kids to the festival since they were babies, i just got back from it, they had an amazing time with the rides and the food and we visited the booths. This festival i think has a somewhat bigger impact because of the local stuff, but the kids enjoyment is what drives me to make a point to go to this every year.. they look forward to the rides and everything else about it. This is going to make me go to other city's festivals, such as chardon or mardi gras in fairport. Keep the rides and the food
Ben December 12, 2012 at 10:56 PM
I think what they are trying to say is that want to get rid of all the hillbilly's in there station wagons. I am sure if you could prove that you are not in that category, than they would be move than happy to let you participate.
scott bricker May 28, 2013 at 05:15 PM
are you afraid also of a mosquito biting them when they leave the house? geeze

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