For over 70 years there was a cooperative spirit between Red Flannel Festival volunteers and city officials who worked together to promote Cedar Springs for the good of the entire community. That all changed in 2011 when the economy took a serious downturn and the city could no longer justify costs associated with the festival, as taxpayer services and staff were negatively impacted. As a result, the Festival Board threatened a lawsuit if the city didn’t pay for use of the long john logo. After almost two years, facing what would surely be a prolonged court fight and considering the subsequent costs to taxpayers, the Council voted to move forward with a new logo. During last Thursday’s council meeting, members were openly castigated for doing so by those RFF volunteers who refuse to accept the decision and who seemed determined to promote more divisiveness within our community. I found it telling that they left immediately after speaking, not caring about anything else but their own agenda.
After all the Festival’s demands for taxpayer dollars, I found it ironic that a woman took to the podium to quite proudly proclaim the Festival Board’s success in taking care of everything (costs) themselves this year, except for police support at the beer tent. (She explained that an outside security would have been used but the City charged less.) You just can’t beat that good old American can-do spirit, the concept of pulling one’s own weight! Had that been done in the first place, it would have been a win-win situation for everyone. The city vehicles, stationary, street signs, etc. would have continued to be free advertising for the yearly festival and the citizens would have their red flannels. I found it odd that the Festival recently offered a new business free use of the Red Flannel logo when it is being held for ransom from the city.
The whole issue surrounding the logo boiled down to nothing more than pride, arrogance, and unwillingness to do what was best for Cedar Springs. There is plenty of blame to go around for all involved but, the Council, having no other viable option, has voted, with heavy hearts, to move on. That can only happen if people will stop the rumors, gossip, and hateful vitriol that is taking place throughout the community and on social media and embrace the future. Friendships have been lost, families divided and enough is enough! Take a step back and work to restore good relationships within our city for the good of all.
Cedar Springs will always be known as the “Red Flannel Capital Of The World”. Google that title and you can find as many as seven websites where our city’s name shows up as just that. That isn’t going to change. It’s time to support the Chamber of Commerce, an entity that is trying to bring back a spirit of cohesiveness and community to our town. Business owners are joining in and Shawn Kiphart has worked tirelessly, and at great cost to himself personally, to improve community relations. Let’s all do our part to make that happen. We can’t change yesterday, tomorrow is a new day, let’s make it good.
Kathy Bremmer, Cedar Springs