Panel Directs Administration to Negotiate a Deal With a New Festival Park Management Company

Nov. 27, 2023 9p

(WGTD)---The company that’s in line to manage the under-utilized Festival Park and Memorial Hall in Racine is promising a new day.

Patrick Flynn, president of 5K Events, went before the city council’s Finance and Personnel Committee Monday night, just before the panel authorized city administration to negotiate a management contract with the company.

5K—a Racine-based company—will replace an Iowa-based firm called VenuWorks.

Reading from a prepared statement, Flynn noted that the original vision for Festival Park was that it would become a community focal point. And it became just that for many years with dozens of festivals and other public events. "Over time, the once vibrant tapestry has faded," Flynn said. "The echoes of laughter and comaraderie were replaced by a veil of silence. And the park's glory days seem like a distant memory."

Flynn said his company has the wherewithal to engineer a return to the previous operating model. "We're not going to get Italian Fest back this year. We know that," Flynn said. But if we can show that Festival Park is growing and events are taking place and there's energy and people are showing up, there won't be any reason for them not to come back," he said.

If 5K is unable to book a non-profit for an outdoor event during the warm-weather months, then 5K will stage its own event like booking a local band and setting up a beer garden, Flynn said. "We want people to come to Festival Park every weekend," he said. 

Flynn said his company wants to work with the non-profits to make Festival Park more affordable for them through better marketing tactics and a new pricing structure. Overall, 5K is prepared to do a better job in marketing Festival Park and Memorial Hall than VenuWorks with its limited staff, he said.  

Flynn also said he’d like to eliminate a contract requirement that forces renters into using a single caterer. 

City Finance Director Kathleen Fischer said she envisions that the city and 5K will strike an agreement that looks much different than the 12-year-old contract with VenuWorks. One goal of the city is to reduce its operating subsidy of the sites, she said.