Felsenthal Mayor Theresa Howard on Tuesday confirmed that the Bream Festival will be held as usual this year after a social media post raised doubts about the annual event's fate.
On Monday evening, a former member of the Bream Fest Association, the group of local residents who have previously organized every year's festival, posted on the festival's Facebook page that several members of the group had resigned from their positions and "a decision was made without support of the (four) remaining members ... to hand over Bream Fest."
The group member declined to speak on the record about the situation, instead referring a News-Times reporter to the City of Felsenthal.
Howard said the Felsenthal City Council agreed at their most recent meeting to take over organizing the annual event.
"(The Bream Fest Association) actually asked if we would. They came to me and asked if the city would be willing," she said. "The post – the girl that wrote that post was actually at that meeting where we voted for the City Council to take it over. She had come to me after the meeting they did and was good with it."
Howard said this year's festival will have all the hallmarks of previous Bream Fests – which have in the past included a rib cookoff, children's art contest and of course, a fishing competition – along with a new 5K race.
"We're doing the same thing as we always do," she said.
This year's iteration of the festival will be the 35th. In 2018, the festival was cancelled due to flooding, and the 2020 festival was called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival returned in 2021 and again last year.
The mayor said she hopes Bream Fest will be the first of many successful events organized by the city.
"I think it will just be beneficial for us to make the city grow -- which is what my job is, what I'm trying to do -- and bring it back to life, to where it used to be," she said. "I'm looking into the future, doing other festivals too, throughout the year, so it was actually a great idea they had."
A planning committee formed to organize city events will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, March 14, around 7 p.m. at Felsenthal Town Hall.
Funds raised by the Bream Fest Association through festival sponsorships, vendor fees and admissions at previous iterations of the festival have been turned over to the City of Felsenthal, Howard said, in total $24,000.
Howard said she hopes this year's Bream Fest will be a success.
"I think it's real important for everybody to know that it's still going. It's going to be here, and we're going to enjoy it and hope to make it grow," she said.