Fort Mill Times

SpringFest will be a fresh start

Although "change" seems to be the buzzword of this political season, you don't have to wait until after November's presidential election to see if any will materialize. Right here in Fort Mill, first-term Mayor Danny Funderburk, elected last November, didn't wait long to put his stamp on the town.

We reported last week that Funderburk decided to create a new signature event for the town that will be called - at least this year - SpringFest and will be held May 3.

This will effectively replace the quarter century-old Fest-i-Fun, traditionally held over three days the first weekend in May.

As opposed to Fest-i-Fun, which was controlled by a private committee, the new event will be sponsored by the town. Fort Mill Parks and Recreation Director Brown Simpson is in charge of the recently formed committee that will organize it.

Funderburk said one of the main reasons he decided to go in a new direction is the feedback he received on the campaign trail. He told us last week that after growth issues and energizing Main Street, "changing the town's festival" was tied for third with public transportation among the chief concerns of residents he spoke with last fall.

SpringFest will be held downtown, but not on Main Street, which Funderburk said will help ensure safety. He talked about the overnight fire that destroyed Tony's Pizza and marred last year's Fest-i-Fun and reports of fist fights during the fest in recent years.

We agree - in part; It was fortunate no one was hurt when Tony's went up in flames, and that was due mostly to the fact that it erupted in the predawn hours. We're not sure we agree, however, that moving it to a local park - as the plan calls for - will prevent anyone from fighting.

Overall, there's much to like in the plan.

For starters, the mayor said this move "gives [the annual spring fest] back to the people." With the town in charge, it will certainly be accountable to residents, and the SpringFest budget will be open to public inspection. That's always a good thing.

Also, Funderburk said he is open to more public participation when planning subsequent SpringFests and would even consider suggestions for a new name. That's excellent news on both accounts. Due to time constraints, this year's SpringFest - that's as generic a name as you'd ever hear - will be a music and food affair. Next year and beyond, we'd like to see an event with more activities and perhaps a plan that uses more of Fort Mill's resources, such as the Anne Springs Close Greenway, Leroy Springs Recreation Complex and the YMCA.

In the past, we've called for a shakeup of Fest-i-Fun and can't complain now about getting what we asked for.

And all things considered, this is a good start.