Flaggs backs decision to not hold Vicksburgfest

Published 5:27 pm Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will financially support any organization that wants to put on a community event in Vicksburg, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said, provided the organization meets certain conditions for that help.

“The city stands ready to support any group that can show me evidence of how they plan to make money — make a profit, or they’re going to use sponsorship or they’re going to use us as a city to help sponsor so it (the event) can be successful,” Flaggs said.

His announcement came after VicksburgFest president Dean Anderson said in a Feb. 7 email to city officials and media outlets there would be no event this year because the organization’s board of directors decided to “take a step back to re-evaluate the event” after 31 years. VicksburgFest is the rebranded name for the long-standing RiverFest.

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The email came after a Feb. 3 meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, when Flaggs said he would require more information and goals from organizations seeking the city’s financial support for an event.

He said he agreed with VicksburgFest’s decision.

“I applaud the RiverFest board for the decision they made,” he said. “Having said that, I told you I believe in accountability, I believe in performance, budgets, I believe in benchmarks. I think the RiverFest board made the right decision.”

He indicated part of his decision to put conditions on requests for the city’s sponsorship was influenced in part by VicksburgFest, which was formerly known as RiverFest.

Since he has been mayor, Flaggs said, the city has spent $177,000 on the annual downtown Vicksburg event.

“In 2019, we spent $19,000; 2018, we spent $84,000,” he said. “That was the best RiverFest we ever had in history, but we didn’t make any money.”

In 2017, he said, the city spent $22,000 on the event, and $12,000 in 2014. Prior to 2014, he said, they spent $10,000 a year on the event with the exception of 2012, when they spent $15,000 in advertising for the event’s 25th anniversary.

“I’m a fiscally conservative person; I don’t spend money I don’t have, and I don’t think the city should spend money if it’s not being used properly,” he said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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