Chamber cancels downtown Rock Hill's Main Street Live

Rock Hill’s Main Street Live has been canceled because of rising costs and declining attendance, organizers say.

The spring-through-fall event has been a fixture in downtown since 1995.

The event’s organizers – the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce and its Rock Hill Area Council – said the event was not breaking even. The chamber sought sponsors and vendors to offset the cost of the free event.

“It was never to make money, but it was not in place to lose money,” said Colleen Coesens, who coordinated the event for the last three years for the Rock Hill Area Council of the chamber.

The cost of Main Street Live changed in 2013 when the city started charging non-city sponsored events for its services. The city’s bill for an Aug. 3 concert was $2,712.50, with 79 percent of the money going to the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department which provided services and personnel, according to city records.

The city’s policy charges fees for setup, maintenance, cleanup, and police for security. The rate is $25 per hour per person, two hours minimum.

The city started charging for its services in 2010. The charges were on a sliding scale, increasing to full recovery of the city’s cost by 2013.

Coesens said she didn’t fault the city for charging for its services. “The city is a business, you have to run it feasibly smart,” she said.

Rob Youngblood, president of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Coesens said attendance at the events had been declining since 2009. They said the drop can be traced to other localities in the area offering similar events.

Organizers moved the event from Thursday to Friday nights in 2013 to boost attendance but that didn’t help, Coesens said.

Youngblood said the regional chamber also evaluated whether the event was meeting the needs of its members. Typically, he said, events such as Main Street Live are coordinated by merchant associations or downtown associations, not chambers of commerce.

Youngblood said it was unlikely the chamber would resume the event.

Coesens said the Rock Hill Area Council could look at a similar event in the future after Fountain Park opens. No official opening for the under-construction park at East Main Street and Elizabeth Lane has been set. City officials have said they would like to have it finished by the end of the year.