Those who follow Saline city government issues may recall that in 2011, there was something of a dramatic moment when, following a work meeting and discussion, there was a 4-3 vote by City Council on whether the Saline Celtic Festival would continue. I was on the losing side of that vote, because I had a number of concerns about the Festival; I suspect that even some of the supporters of that motion shared my concerns.
The sustainability of the event was something I worried about, and the fact that, unlike all of Saline’s other community events (such as Oktoberfest and Summerfest), the Saline Celtic Festival is a city-sponsored event. If the Festival fails to make money, or cannot pay its bills, city government must step in and cover that liability. I also wondered if the Festival was becoming stale, or failing to evolve and change. An event of such magnitude must remain relevant and exciting.
In retrospect, I’m very glad that what I advocated back in 2011 didn’t come to fruition, and now that I’ve had the opportunity to be more deeply involved in the event, I proudly support the Saline Celtic Festival and understand its importance to our community. I still believe that parity among community events is vitally important, and for this reason I am pleased that the Festival appears to have a trajectory towards becoming its own independent entity, separate from the city.
It may seem strange, but I think it’s imperative for leaders (especially elected leaders) to admit their mistakes. More importantly, though, we must learn and grow from the experience. I perhaps failed to recognize how beneficial this event is to the community, and the number of Co-Chairs and volunteers who are extremely passionate about the Festival. Clearly, it brings a lot of recognition and attention to Saline, and has become one of the signature events that make Saline unique and special. And, in recent years it has evolved in some very positive ways: featuring many craft beers, a nice diversity of musical performers, a variety of food and other vendors, and, this year, what I expect to be the most professional and entertaining jousting competition that the Festival has ever seen.
I encourage my fellow Salinians to join me at this year’s Festival for the main activities on Saturday, but also for Pub Night on Friday night, featuring drinks, food, and plenty of quality entertainment. I hope to see you there!
Brian D. Marl
Mayor, City of Saline