Festival organizers seeking help to pay event costs

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Budget concerns raised by city officials have led organizers of next month’s Arab International Festival to seek donations to help pay for security and cleanup.

Because the city must spend about $59,000 to provide those services and is looking for ways to reduce expenses, organizers were concerned that the festival might have to be canceled.Part of the cost was thought to result from a planned appearance at the festival by the Rev. Terry Jones, who recently protested what he believes to be radical Islam extremism in front of City Hall.

Fay Beydoun, executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the event, said the event will proceed as planned. However, with the financial deficit facing the city and officials exploring shutting down pools and parks, her group realizes the city can’t continue to absorb the costs.

City spokeswoman Mary Laundroche said talks with the chamber are ongoing, and that members still need to get permission from the City Council to block roads. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for June 6.

At issue are overtime costs, Laundroche said, and in order to cover them, festival organizers must raise additional sponsorships or greater contributions from businesses along Warren that benefit from provide security. She said the chamber also has contacted private companies and currently is receiving bids.

The festival, scheduled for June 17 through 19, has been held on Father’s Day weekend since 1995. Beydoun said it attracts people from all over the country and Canada and brings a “significant economic impact,” about $7 million, to the city.

She said she doesn’t believe the security and cleanup cost estimates of city officials for the festival are the result of Jones’ visit.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)