The Flower & Art Fair has been facilitated by the DDA since 2000
By Megan Kelley
Lake Orion’s Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously to turn the annual Flower & Art Fair over to the Orion Art Center during their regular meeting on Feb. 9.
Amy Cole, president of the Orion Art Center Board of Directors, was joined by the board Vice President Hank Lorant and Treasurer Julie Sugg to present their plans.
“What we would love to do is take over the event (the Flower and Art Fair), work in partnership with the DDA, execute it in a very similar fashion as what’s been done historically. We’re not looking to take the Flower & Art Fair and change it into something entirely different. We love it exactly the way that it is,” Cole said. “We would love to add some additional art elements to it, potentially grow it over time.”
DDA Executive Director Molly LaLone recommended the board approve the event transfer, along with the commitment to continue to support the event by reserving summer restroom facilities in May, through their paying for DPW costs and through promotion on their website, e-newsletters and social media.
“We’ve spent a lot of time, internally, talking about this,” Cole said. “We are really really excited. We think it fits what we already do very well.”
The Orion Art Center is expected to work with Julie Law, president of 360 Event Productions, to put on the event. Last year, the Art Center had worked with Law to hold The Crafty Dragon event.
“I think we would like to continue and add some additional elements; maybe more family areas…maybe a little entertainment, that never hurts to get people excited to come down. Nothing of grand overture, we’re not talking Dragon on the Lake stuff here but just kind of incrementally add stuff that brings people downtown and then causes them to linger, and that’s really what we want,” Cole said.
DDA board member Monica Squarcia was one of the only members to raise concerns about the transfer, citing her past experience helping with the event.
“I’ve been a part of this since day one, so it’s kind of my baby. I kind of feel like I don’t want to let go,” Squarcia said. “My main concern, because I know it is a lot of work…is the vendors. So, I’m really concerned. I love Dragon on the Lake, I love the whole beer tent, I love the whole race — I never liked the vendors. I can tell you, I was always very very disappointed in them.
“And I think that we have certain vendors that we like to bring to the flower fair. You know, not just anything. We do it for flowers, we do it for things that are associated with flowers even if it’s crafts or, you know, that type of thing. So, I think that’s my main concern is what type of vendors that we’re going to have. I don’t want it to get cheap, I still want it to be nice,” Squarcia said.
Cole ensured the board that the Art Center has “100 percent commitment to the vendors you had in the past” as well as a 100 percent commitment that the event would continue to be The Flower & Art Fair, not “Dragon on the Lake 2.0.”
“That’s not what we want either because we love it the way that it is,” Cole said. “This isn’t about taking an event and changing it. We definitely want it to be about the flowers.”
Township supervisor and DDA board member Chris Barnett posed a question regarding DDA finances.
Traditionally, The Flower & Art Fair generates revenue of $15,000 – $20,000 annually. In order to make up for this loss of revenue, the DDA would either have to make up it somewhere else, or reduce their budgets accordingly.
LaLone informed Barnett and the board that the DDA’s December Downtown Dollars sale resulted in a $17,000 revenue increase that the DDA normally would not receive.
Online: downtownlakeorion.org and orionartcenter.org.