Oyster Fest 2013’s $10 Question — Arcata Main Street’s Jennifer Koopman Speaks

Andrew Goff / Thursday, May 2, 2013 @ 4:53 p.m. / Our Culture

In recent years, Arcata Main Street Oyster Fest has arguably established itself as Humboldt’s most anticipated annual event. As such, it was no surprise that online emotions ran high when word crept out via the North Coast Journal‘s Facebook page earlier this week that the, to this point, free shuckers paradise would institute a $10 entrance fee beginning this year. Shucks!

The reasons for the zero-to-ten pricing increase are addressed in the official AMS press release sent out today:

The Oyster Festival will operate a little differently this year. Due to organizational budgets, festival management and attendance, safety concerns and increasing costs, Arcata Main Street will charge a $10 entrance fee to enter the festival grounds surrounding the Arcata Plaza. There will be no charge for beer wristbands. 

“Putting on a festival of this magnitude is very expensive and unfortunately due to the loss of redevelopment funds from the state we have had our budget cut dramatically,” said Arcata Main Street Vice President Nicholas Matthews. “These budget cuts and the increasing price of putting on this event had put the viability of promoting future events of this nature in jeopardy.”

Arcata Main Street’s Board of Directors hopes the $10 entrance fee will change the dynamic and energy of the event, making it safer and more fun for all ages. In addition, the non-profit organization is working with the Arcata Police Department, the Arcata Fire Protection District and the City of Arcata to manage the large crowds and maintain the crowd’s civility as the event comes to an end at 5:30 p.m. 

“The event in the past has experienced estimated crowds up to 16,000,” Arcata Main Street Executive Director Jennifer Koopman said.

“The Oyster Festival has been hugely successful and growing — something for which people travel hundreds of miles to have their first taste of our community,” said Arcata Main Street President Dave Neyra. “But the growth and success has not come without costs, some of which threaten the event itself. Over the past years, our non-profit organization has had increasing complaints that the festival was becoming too crowded to attend, especially for families. But perhaps even more concerning were the increases in security problems with the event, some of which were related to the increase in attendance.” (Read the whole press release here.)

The $10 entrance fee will also allow the Oyster Festival to reinvest in Humboldt’s aquaculture industry. Arcata Main Street has set up a support fund with Humboldt Area Foundation, where a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to local environmental projects. 

Not satisfied with that explanation? AMS Executive Director Jennifer Koopman will speak with KHUM‘s Larry Trask at 5:15 p.m. today. (Listen online here.) Have questions you’d like him to ask her? Post them in the comments. Your Lost Coast Outpost will post the audio of that interview right here as soon as its available.

UPDATE 5:52 p.m.: … and here’s the Trask/Koopman chat audio.

Jennifer Koopman Interview

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