Ellsworth Cheese Curd Festival gets approval for bigger site
Ellsworth's Cheese Curd Festival has a new, larger site in hopes to better tackle demand after last year's festival drew an unexpectedly large attendance.
At Monday's Ellsworth Village Board meeting, board members approved a roughly three-block setting for the festival that spans from East End Park to Broadway Street in Ellsworth's East End. It almost triples the available space for the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce's festival, which last year was confined to East End Park and vendor space on Crosscut Avenue.
"We increased attendance by six times [last year]," said Kim Beebe, a member of the chamber's executive support team. "This year we wanted to expand the footprint of the festival."
The festival will have more events, food vendors and more entertainment — along with more cheese curds, she said.
While the site was approved, village board member Rick Sweig raised concerns over regulating attendees' drinking in the larger space's three entrances. Sweig was the only board member to vote against the site.
The festival's goal is to help revitalize the village's east end and to drive traffic to downtown Ellsworth, said Becky Beissel, a member of the chamber's executive support team.
"People are willing to drive to Ellsworth if you give them a good time, good food and fun. They'll come here," Beissel said.
In most years the festival, which will be in its 18th year, brought in around 1,000 to 2,000 people, but two years ago it jumped to 10,000. Last year it soared to 30,000 people, prompting the search for a larger site, Beebe said.
Ellsworth Police Chief Eric Ladwig gave his monthly report at the board meeting, detailing the 261 incidents the department responded to. Of those, 50 were for parking citations, 29 traffic stops, nine arrests and others.
The department is also in the process of hiring new part-time officers, and Ladwig said he has started background checks on some applicants. The village recently raised part-time officer pay in hopes of better attracting and maintaining officers and competing with other departments in the county.
• The village board accepted the resignation of longtime Public Works employee Scott Hines.
• The board approved a $200 donation to the Ellsworth High School's Senior Grad Nite and approved a $25,000 tax incremental district payment to Quinn Motors of Ellsworth to assist in building demolition and landscaping for the business's recent acquisition of the former Pierce County Historical Association building.