ear of corn
DeKalb Corn Fest’s Form 990 for 2012 is available, so we can check out Corn Fest’s final year at the airport.

There was a major drop in expenses over 2011.

Good thing, too. The revenue for 2012 is the lowest in that column, which is particularly shocking in view of Corn Fest’s takeover of the beer garden. It’s another indicator of poor attendance and probably reflects a significant loss of vendors as well.

YearRevenuesExpensesGain/LossGrants
Given
2004129,016153,600-24,584None
2005174,734140,83933,895None
2006183,392163,69819,69425,200
2007167,509156,17411,3353,000
2008160,999178,519-17,5204,000
2009183,662184,376-1,014300
2010155,804171,748-15,944None
2011133,058151,358-18,300None
2012124,786123,760
1,026None

Time will tell whether Corn Fest saved itself from a death spiral by moving back downtown.

Meanwhile, I believe we’ve amply demonstrated that the real reason for the return from the airport was failure.

Remember this, from our financial consultants last April?

[I]f you survey potential businesses, would they consider DeKalb business friendly? I don’t know the answer to that question. We have heard anecdotal evidence; some say that DeKalb is one of the most business-unfriendly cities they’ve ever encountered. Well, if that’s the case, economic development will be a challenge. So, it’s something that perhaps could be addressed.

Yesterday I spent the day at the DeKalb Farmers Market. I’d previously understood from the ReNew person in charge that the city had agreed to keep Locust Street open for the duration of the market, which runs until 6 p.m. But they got antsy to start setting up for Corn Fest by mid-afternoon, put up barricades and killed traffic. Vendors started fleeing as early as 4 p.m., leaving little for the after-work crowd to shop for.

That’s not even getting into the impacts to downtown business people in buildings. Some of them already know they will see their worst weekend of sales for the year this weekend with Corn Fest back downtown. And even if the city’s/Corn Fest’s impatience didn’t worsen the sales outlook, the powers-that-be clearly squandered an opportunity for goodwill. There was some real anger expressed in the Van Buer parking lot yesterday and the blame was laid squarely on the City of DeKalb and Corn Fest. It sounded a lot like what the financial consultants heard.

DeKalb is run by a relatively small group of self-anointed VIPs, within government and without, who regularly tramp roughshod over the interests of others in the community. Some are the very same people who talk about economic development all the time yet seem to lack a clue about how to provide it.

Here’s one: Get over yourselves and start thinking about somebody else for a change.

Chronicle’s Corn Fest 2011

ear of cornDeKalb Corn Fest just filed its IRS Form 990 this month for calendar/fiscal year 2011.

Let’s add the numbers to our chart:

YearRevenuesExpensesGain/LossGrants
Given
Ending
Fund
Balance
2004129,016153,600-24,584None25,805
2005174,734140,83933,895None59,700
2006183,392163,69819,69425,20079,394
2007167,509156,17411,3353,00090,699
2008160,999178,519-17,5204,00073,179
2009183,662184,376-1,01430072,165
2010155,804171,748-15,944None56,221
2011133,058151,358-18,300None37,921

Corn Fest was able to to reduce its costs over the previous year. Unfortunately, its revenues took another dive. This (along with the sorry parking fee revenue total for 2012) is consistent with our hypothesis that Corn Fest is back downtown because it was dying at the airport, no matter what public officials say about it.

I’m calling it “Chronicle’s Corn Fest” for fun, though it really isn’t funny. In fact, let’s talk. Read the rest of this entry

According to the City of DeKalb, the total in parking fees collected for Corn Fest 2012 is $16,174.

That’s a lot less than the nearly $26,700 collected in 2011 and a sad fraction of the original estimate of $54,000.

And remember, if they worked the same deal as last year, 20% of the total goes to whichever charitable organization helped the city with this task.

Sales tax revenue information from this year’s Corn Fest will be available by the last week in September. Last year the sales tax take was about $4200.

Wonder what the FAA would say.

Bonus: Corn Fest Liquor License after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

DeKalb Corn Fest, Inc. now has its own liquor license, and its own special permit to serve liquor at Corn Fest in the great outdoors. My companion and I saw them about 5:30 p.m.

We had to request to see these documents, because they weren’t posted anywhere: not at the gate to the beer garden, not in the regular serving area nor the VIP area. A nice staff person had to go looking in an office in the hangar used by VIP. All told it took about 10 minutes to get a peek at them, even though Corn Fest was already serving.

The name of the licensed establishment is “Corn Fest” and the address is 1586 Barber Greene Road, which, as I’ve commented and Tweeted before, is the address of the Daily Chronicle.

The Knights of Columbus ran the beer garden for Corn Fest until this year. KC has, you know, an actual bar.

On Monday I’ll submit a Freedom of Information Act for these documents so you don’t have to depend upon my memory for details.

Stay tuned.

We’re doing a brisk business today in searches for Corn Fest postings, particularly financial reports. Hitting the Corn Fest tag will present them in a pleasing reverse chronology for you. Enjoy!

We need for DeKalb to collect, at minimum, about $30,000 in Corn Fest annual revenues on behalf of DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport (DTMA) because that’s what city administrators told the FAA it would do.

They also said they’d put these revenues, consisting of sales taxes and parking fees, directly into the airport fund instead of dumping them into the General Fund and making transfers. They have not yet made this change, so I requested the numbers through the Freedom of Information Act.

Make the jump to see how well we’ve done. Read the rest of this entry

Corn Fest Financials Through 2010

ear of cornDeKalb Corn Fest was lucky to have funds in reserve when it moved from the downtown to DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport in 2008.

YearRevenuesExpensesGain/LossGrants
Given
Ending
Fund
Balance
2004129,016153,600-24,584?25,805
2005174,734140,83933,895?59,700
2006183,392163,69819,69425,20079,394
2007167,509156,17411,3353,00090,699
2008160,999178,519-17,5204,00073,179
2009183,662184,376-1,01430072,165
2010155,804171,748-15,944None56,221

Except for the “Lady Antebellum boost” in 2009, revenues have been trending downward. Revenues are no longer itemized on the tax forms, so we don’t know which categories have gotten hit.

The expense story is not so mysterious: expenses jumped with the move to the airport because site costs rose from $20,000 to $38,000.

It will be interesting to get last year’s numbers to see what effect, if any, the new parking fees had on the bottom line. You will recall that the City of DeKalb, not Corn Fest, benefits from the parking fees; nevertheless they could still affect attendance and spending.

Source: Foundation Center 990 Finder

Corn Fest Financials

YearRevenuesExpensesGrantsGain/LossAssets
2004129,016153,600?-24,58425,805
2005174,734140,839?33,89559,700
2006183,392163,69825,20019,69479,394
2007167,509156,1743,00011,33590,699
2008160,999178,5194,000-17,52073,179
2009183,662184,376300-1,01472,165

2004-5: No grants were allocated as such for these years but there were expenses listed as “contributions,” of $2,500 and $3,064, respectively.

2006: Yowza.

2007: There was rain and flooding.

2008: This was Corn Fest’s first year at the airport.

2009: Lady Antebellum probably saved their hash.

Source: Grant Space Tools

More on Corn Fest & Parking Fees

Here’s a piece of an e-mail from an FAA official to the City of DeKalb about FAA requirements for holding Corn Fest at the airport, which DeKalb County Online got hold of in May:

Of particular importance is the amount of money received by the airport from the event. This MUST be some form of Fair Market Value revenue received from the event and put into the airport operations fund. Failure to do so could put the airport in noncompliance with its Grant Assurances. IDA/FAA may request proof of payment to ensure compliance. I would also add that a token sum of something like $500/day or $1,000/day for what appears to be a pretty big event is not considered Fair Market Value.

In early June, the FAA official recapped an agreement made during a meeting with the City of DeKalb:

- There will be a charge for parking for the event. A daily and/or weekend charge/fee was mentioned. Based on historical attendance figures, this could lead to revenue to the airport ranging between $30k to $50K. Also, you mentioned in the previous years’ events that the sales tax collected at the event went back into the airport budget. These two sources of income (if close to the estimated amount) would, in my opinion, be considered Fair Market Value for a 3-day event.

Then the Chronicle editorial said this*: Read the rest of this entry