Festival mess irks county commissioners

LISBON -County commissioners are displeased with the small mess left behind by some food vendors following the recent Johnny Appleseed Festival.

Speaking at this week’s meeting, commissioners said a vendor or two may be responsible for apparently dumping grease or oil, potato peels and other food items in the courthouse parking lot at the conclusion of the two-day festival on Sept. 22.

The worst of it occurred in the south parking lot on West Washington Street behind the former Bad Frogs tavern. Commissioners allow the Lisbon Area Chamber of Commerce to use the property for the festival, with carnival rides and food concession stands set up in the parking lots.

Commissioner Tim Weigle found what appeared to be several trails of either grease or cooking oil, one of which led to a storm sewer, while he was walking through the south parking lot on Sept. 23. He said there also appeared to be potato peels and other food products scattered among the grease/oil trails.

There was also some minor damage to the new blacktop parking lot surface by a portable Dumpster that was used during the festival.

Commissioner Mike Halleck said there were also what appeared to be some grease/oil trails in the main parking lot, and the storm sewer there smelled as if something had been disposed of in it other than grease or oil.

“You expect a little trash … but that behavior is inexcusable,” he said.

Halleck blamed the vendors and not the chamber. “It’s a shame. These people don’t live here and then move on,” he said.

The festival ends late Sunday night, and chamber director Marilyn McCullough said they opt to clean up the festival grounds during the daylight hours on Monday, usually at the end of the work day, when the parking lots are empty.

The Lisbon Fire Department agreed to hose down the areas with a degreaser solution on Wednesday night, and commissioners thanked the chamber and fire department.

“We’ll make it right. What can I say,” McCullough said.

The Rev. Pam Gable from the Methodist Church attended the commissioners meeting. The church operates a chicken barbecue as a fundraiser during the festival.

“Our chicken is not greasy, so we did not contribute” to the problem, she joked.

Gable said the only problem they experienced this year is some of the vendors took up most of the church parking spaces.

Commissioners said they will continue to let the parking lots be used for the festival, with Halleck pointing out the ride company posts a bond with the chamber to cover any damage. Commissioners spent $60,000 in the past 18 months to blacktop all of the parking lots.

“We’ll have to monitor this more closely, and hopefully the vendors will respect the county and village more,” Halleck said.