Newsmaker of the month: ‘Fighting’ in village has festival’s future in question

Downtown Fredonia is hopping this weekend. Much of the credit for the excitement, enthusiasm and energy goes to the Festivals Fredonia group and Mark Mackey — all of whom are volunteers.

This year’s event, which fills Barker Common and Day Street, is the 55th edition. What happens next year, however, remains unknown.

Mackey, who has chaired Farm Festival for the last seven years, put others and the village on notice in July. This year is his last.

In making that announcement, he noted there’s a lot of time, work and effort that is put into the annual event. He estimates that each year, he has put in more than 1,000 hours to make the three-day happening special. His predecessors would agree. The Farm Festival is a boatload of work.

But the organizing a three-day schedule is only one battle. The other, unfortunately, is the village itself.

“I’m tired of fighting. Every year it’s been something different,” he said of the village during the July interview. “I spend more time than I should at these trustee meetings and I just don’t want to do it anymore.”

Village Hall rarely is a friendly place. It can be even more contentious during the board meetings.

Consider what former Mayor Frank Pagano said during a meeting after the June water crisis — the second of the year for users. “I’m here representing dozens of community members and your constituents,” he said. “They’ve asked me to come — I asked them to come too, but they’re afraid of you, I guess.”

Snide remarks — or rude responses — are nothing out of the ordinary for village trustees. They’re more worried about village revenues than providing reliable water. By the way, with fewer constituents in attendance at the twice-monthly meetings, the less accountable they need to be.

Mackey after donating his time for seven years has had enough. He, of all people, deserved to be treated with the utmost of respect by those elected.

If next year’s Farm Festival fails to happen, it won’t be on Mackey or the Festivals Fredonia group. It will, by most accounts, be tied to a village that is less than cooperative with those who are trying to better the community.

How unfortunate this is.


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