OXNARD : Private Group Wants to Run Strawberry Festival

The Oxnard recreation and community services director is recommending that the City Council today approve a move to privatize the California Strawberry Festival, the annual city-sponsored attraction that celebrates one of the area's most abundant crops.

James Faulconer will ask the council to approve a request by the California Strawberry Festival Committee to operate the festival. If the measure is approved, the committee would then become a private, nonprofit corporation, Faulconer said.

The council will also be asked to spend $600,000 to produce and operate the 1995 festival with the understanding that the money would be paid back to the city with interest over time, Faulconer said.

In past years, money spent by the city on the festival has been repaid by corporate sponsorships and revenues raised by the festival.

The California Strawberry Festival, which will be held May 21 and 22 at Oxnard College, has generated more than $500,000 in each of the past five years, Faulconer said. Much of that revenue helps fund a variety of local nonprofit groups.

The plan up for discussion today would better "reflect the arrangement between the city, the private sector and the California Strawberry Festival Committee that has developed since the event's inception," Faulconer wrote in his report to council members.

If approved, the proposal would also renew a two-year management services contract for $146,354 with William Lynn Garlock, who would agree to manage the event through June 30, 1996.

Faulconer proposes two alternatives to forming the corporation: maintain the status quo or establish a revolving fund for the festival.

But he recommended against keeping things the same because that restricts the festival's development. Faulconer said the revolving fund alternative would be acceptable but not preferred by the committee.

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