The Wadesboro town council nixed both PeopleFest and early voting during its meeting on Monday evening.
The council voted unanimously to cancel the town’s festival after discussing the time and money the event involves.
Mayor Bill Thacker said that the festival always involves expense, including the costs of paying police officers overtime pay.
The council had considered hosting the event at the same time as Uptown Wadesboro, Inc.’s annual Fall Festival.
Julian Swittenberg, director of Uptown Wadesboro, said that he had envisioned the combination of the two as a “nice, full day.”
Swittenberg said that the Fall Festival is always full of free activities for families, however, while PeopleFest traditionally has a variety of vendors selling their wares. Combining the two could change the free nature of Uptown Wadesboro’s event.
“I’ve always felt that the Fall Festival should be free, and PeopleFest vendors tend to pull money out of people’s pockets,” Swittenberg said.
He still wanted to see PeopleFest continue.
“I would hate to see an event like PeopleFest with its long history be dropped, but it may be good to do the Fall Festival as a joint venture and see if we can keep it free,” he said.
Councilman Bobby Usrey said that the time town staff spend on PeopleFest is cost-prohibitive.
“Unless some group comes forward for planning, I say we just do the Fall Festival,” Usrey said.
“Let’s let Uptown Wadesboro do the management and the town be a contributing partner,” the mayor said. “PeopleFest puts a lot of work on the clerk.”
Last year, town staff who serve on Uptown Wadesboro’s board volunteered their time and the town spent about $50 on a Facebook ad to promote the Fall Festival, town manager Alex Sewell said.
“Personally, I think people think that PeopleFest is a thing of the past, anyway,” councilman John Ballard said.
PeopleFest has experienced a streak of bad luck in recent years, with the event getting canceled or rained out multiple times.
Thacker said that Steve Adams, director of the Anson County Board of Elections, asked the council to approve holding municipal elections at one site rather than at the three it does for state and federal elections.
“One location sounds good,” councilman James David Lee said. “It seems having three always causes confusion.”
The council voted on the issue 4-1, with Ballard voting against it.
“People won’t read to see that it’s at one location,” Ballard said. “They’ll go to the three they went to before.”
Thacker said that Adams also asked the town whether it planned to offer absentee and early voting this year. Sewell said that offering the service costs the town about $3,800.
Councilman Fred Davis made the motion to keep absentee and early voting, saying that he felt it important that residents have more opportunities to vote. When no other council members supported it, the motion died for the lack of a second.
Monday’s vote only affects Wadesboro municipal voting for this year.
Those with questions can contact the Anson County Board of Elections at 704-994-3223 or director Steve Adams at [email protected]
The Wadesboro town council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss and approve contract and budget amendments related to the construction of the new Wadesboro Fire Department. The council’s next regular meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, April 3. Both meetings will be held in the meeting room of the Wadesboro town hall.
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.