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Tag Archive | "Red Flannel Town"

A Royal Salute—Celebrating 75 years of volunteers


N-Red-flannel-75-webThe 75th diamond anniversary Red Flannel Festival presents new 2014 events

The Red Flannel Festival Board of Directors recently revealed a slate of new and exciting events to celebrate the 75th Red Flannel Festival, taking place October 4, 2014.

The theme this year is “A Royal Salute! Celebrating 75 Years of Volunteers!” “We’re so grateful to have this beautiful logo designed by local artist, Doris Vinton, winner of last year’s RFF Art Review,” said Brynadette Powell, Festival Trustee.

One thing the board plans to do is have additional events throughout the year.

“The board has added many events in the last few years and boasts over 4,500 fans on our Facebook page,” said President Michele Tracy-Andres. “This board is extremely dedicated to ensuring the Red Flannel Festival is the biggest and best ever! Our goal is to have Red Flannel Town events monthly leading up to Red Flannel Day, Oct. 4, 2014. We’re proud of all of the volunteers over the past 75 years who have made this a nationally recognized, quality event.”

The Festival continues to expand its advertising portfolio with the addition of billboards to advertise this year’s events. Again this year, the Festival has partnered with WLAV, 96.9 FM in Grand Rapids, for radio commercials; and an expanded number of television commercials will begin on FOX 17 in September. The beautiful, 32-page full color “Official Red Flannel Press” will be distributed in August, thanks to Festival Business Patron Sponsors and “Friends of the Festival,” a donor program designed exclusively for individuals.

New this year, the Festival will debut the Scottville Clown Band in the Grand Parade, with a concert after the Parade in the Grand Lodge. “This is a fantastic, entertaining group we’ve been trying for years to have come to the Festival,” said Andres. A large volunteer picnic, to celebrate all Festival volunteers past and present will be held in August.

The Festival is excited and proud to have partnered with Rob Bliss, from Rob Bliss Creative in Grand Rapids, to film a “Red Flannel Town Lip Dub” during the 2014 Grand Parade. “Rob is nationally known for his creativity and we’re thrilled he’s part of the 75th Anniversary celebration,” said Andres.

Bliss did the Grand Rapids Lip Dub a few years ago, which got over five million views on youtube and brought a lot of positive attention to Grand Rapids. He most recently did the homeless veteran time lapse for a non-profit organization, and that received over 16 million views, and raised $60,000 for his client.

A Red Flannel Town House Decorating Contest with cash prizes, is also new for 2014, as well as a Spaghetti dinner. A Princess for a Day event will be held as a fundraiser for the Queen Scholarship Fund.

Back by popular demand are The Lumberjacks! After a 2 year hiatus, The American Lumberjack Show will again make an appearance for an interactive show for the 75th Anniversary!

Due to last years’ success, The Red Flannel Wine and Microbrew Tasting event, Art Review, Firefighter Parade, and Trolley to provide transportation to Festival-goers will also return.

“Of course, the traditional events are still in place,” said Andres. “The Car & Tractor Shows, Museum Open House, Rotary Chicken BBQ, Lion’s Lumberjack Supper, Queen Scholarship Pageant, Bed Races and Grand Parade are wonderful traditions.” For a full schedule of events, or to download event applications, visit www.redflannelfestival.org.

The Festival was granted 501c3 non-profit status and all donations are tax deductible. The Festival is an independent, all volunteer organization with volunteer openings for individuals, families and groups to be involved. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information on how to donate, volunteer or get involved with the Red Flannel Festival, call 616-696-2662 or visit www.redflannelfestival.org.

 

 

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Chamber responds to the Festival


 

By Judy Reed

We received a lot of response to our story last week regarding a cease and desist letter the Red Flannel Festival sent to the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce regarding use of the Red Flannel Town, and Red Flannel Town, U.S.A. service marks.

The Red Flannel Festival trademarked it, but the Chamber also trademarked three taglines that incorporate the words Red Flannel Town in a longer phrase. When the Chamber organized the city’s annual holiday event this year, they named it “A Red Flannel Town Christmas, Come Mingle with Kris Kringle” and registered it in October, along with two other taglines, which were all approved by the state: A Red Flannel Town Christmas, and The Original Red Flannel Town, USA, Cedar Springs, MI.

The Red Flannel Festival shows they registered “The Red Flannel Town” on June 3, 2005, and “Red Flannel Town, U.S.A.” on June 27, 2011.

Chamber president Shawn Kiphart said they  used the term because Cedar Springs has always been known as Red Flannel Town. The Red Flannel Festival said it’s a direct violation of their trademark rights, and it is likely to “cause confusion as to the source or sponsorship of Chamber materials and events.”

Kiphart didn’tagree. “Red Flannel Town is part of a larger title we use. We are referencing Cedar Springs. There is no confusion. I don’t think people think, ‘Oh, it’s the Red Flannel Festival,’ we believe they think of Cedar Springs.”

The Chamber sent a letter back asking for clarification and received one back from the Festival. Kiphart also asked the community to tell him what they want—to forget about using the logo and let the Festival use it only for them, or to fight for it. The responses we received, and that he received personally, were overwhelmingly in favor of letting the moniker identify the town itself.

Last Wednesday evening, the Red Flannel Board met to elect officers, and representatives from the Chamber board were there. Unofficial sources from both sides said there was some good discussion.

The Chamber was asked to put in writing to the Festival what they want, and they did so with a letter this week. In a nutshell, they are asking the Red Flannel Festival to let groups and businesses in Cedar Springs use the name “Red Flannel Town” to positively impact the town, without having to ask each time. You can read the letter in its entirety on page 12, along with what comments readers made on last week’s story.

 

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RF Festival threatens Chamber with legal action


By Judy Reed

 

The Red Flannel Festival has sent a “cease and desist” letter to the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, ordering them to stop using the terms “The Red Flannel Town” and “Red Flannel Town, USA” or face legal action.

When the Chamber organized the city’s annual holiday event this year, they named it “A Red Flannel Town Christmas, Come Mingle with Kris Kringle” and registered the name with the State of Michigan on October 8, 2013. “Our position is that Cedar Springs is Red Flannel Town and always has been, and that’s why the holiday event was so titled,” explained Chamber president Shawn Kiphart.

N-pull-quote-KiphartThey also registered two other taglines, which were both approved by the state: A Red Flannel Town Christmas, and The Original Red Flannel Town, USA, Cedar Springs, MI.

The Red Flannel Festival shows they registered “The Red Flannel Town” on June 3, 2005, and “Red Flannel Town, U.S.A.” on June 27, 2011.

Although the state approved the Chamber’s taglines, the Red Flannel Festival feels it is trademark infringement. “We believe the Chamber’s use of these trademarks constitutes trademark infringement, unfair competition, as well as other common law causes of action,” read the cease and desist letter sent by the Red Flannel Festival’s lawyer, Frank Scutch.

Kiphart responded with a letter asking where they had infringed on the Red Flannel Festival’s property, stating that they would not use their specific phrases without permission. The Festival’s law firm then sent a response that the Chamber insignias specifically incorporate the Festival’s registered marks “The Red Flannel Town” and “Red Flannel Town, U.S.A.” and that their use on their own or as part of a phrase is a direct violation of the Red Flannel Festival’s trademark rights. The letter also said that was likely to “cause confusion as to the source or sponsorship of Chamber materials and events.”

Kiphart doesn’t agree. “Red Flannel Town is part of a larger title we use. We are referencing Cedar Springs. There is no confusion. I don’t think people think, ‘Oh, it’s the Red Flannel Festival,’ we believe they think of Cedar Springs.”

He noted that Cedar Springs was known as the Red Flannel Town long before the Festival trademarked it. On their application, it states that the first time the phrase was used in commerce was October 1, 1950. But there are meeting minutes by the City of Cedar Springs dating back to December of 1941 showing the city was using it on their letterhead at that time.

Kiphart said he would like to know, does the Red Flannel Festival not think Cedar Springs is the Red Flannel Town? That it should only be used in connection with the Festival itself?

The Post asked Festival President Michele Andres that question. “The Festival has owned several state and federal trademarks for many years,” she said. “Red Flannel Town and Red Flannel Town, USA are both owned legally by the Festival regardless of anyone’s personal opinion. The Festival has readily granted permission to several organizations and entities who formally request to use its various trademarks. These marks simply do not belong to the Chamber.”

Kiphart said he doesn’t think they should belong to either entity. “It doesn’t belong to us. It’s the town’s identity,” he said. “If they are asking us to stop referring to Cedar Springs as the Red Flannel Town, we will not. Fear and intimidation tactics will not work on us. They are more than welcome to keep spending money on attorney fees to strip the town of its identity, but we will not play ball.”

Andres remarked that Kiphart needs to schedule some time to professionally and maturely discuss the matter directly with the Red Flannel Festival Board of Directors. “We have asked to meet numerous times and have received no response. It is extremely disappointing that this organization’s leadership does not understand or comprehend basic trademark infringement, especially as business owners.”

Kiphart said they have never declined to meet with them about using the Festival’s  logo. “As we have not wanted to use their exact logo, we haven’t met,” he explained. “We didn’t contact them to ask permission to use the town’s identity.”

Kiphart said the Chamber might be open to sitting down with the Festival to discuss the issue, as long as it was open to the public.

“We want to know what the community thinks,” said Kiphart. “We will do what the community wants. If the community wants us to tell them (the RFF) to take their ball and go home, we will.”

According to the most recent letter sent to the Chamber by the Festival, they have until February 4 to discuss with the Festival the steps they will take to “cease infringement of the RFF’s trademarks.” If they do not hear from them, “the RFF will have no choice but to take legal action against the Chamber,” the letter said.

What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor at news@cedarspringspost.com (limit 350 words), comment on this post, call the Chamber at 616-773-5126, or the Red Flannel Festival at 616-696-2662.

The Red Flannel Festival will also be having their annual board meeting tonight (Thursday, January 30) at 6:30 p.m. at their office on 21 E. Maple Street, where they will vote on a new grand marshal for this year’s 75th Festival, and elect their officers for the year. Those wishing to volunteer are also welcome.

 

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City needs a leader with common sense


The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

_________________________________________

Dear Editor,

I have lived around the Red Flannel Town for 80 years now, and was a resident of the city around 30 years in that time span. I have no voting power now, so maybe I can look at the machinations going on more objectively.

I do not know the council members personally and Mr. Truesdale slightly. When reading his letters to the public in prior editions of the Post, my reaction? Wow! What a great thing to keep the citizens informed, regardless!

Cedar Springs needs a leader with plain old common sense. I’m not a common sense type of person, but have enough wisdom to realize that to run a successful city, business, or anything, common sense is a requisite of great value.

Mr. Truesdale would have made a very, very good Mayor. He is honest and blessed with common sense.

Council take heed of one comment in the meeting and have no more of “underhanded dealings and slipping things in at the last minute.” This is not the most ethical way of business.

There was a comment as a reason for not voting for Mr. Truesdale. The reason came from a piece of gossip: “Mr. Truesdale didn’t believe women should be on the council.” It does give one pause. That’s a good reason?

To the mayor and council members, for the good of the city, everyone stop the pettiness. Please!

 

Alice Powell, 

Solon Township

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The Clipper Girls: A Red Flannel Legend


By  Tanya Eldred, The Cedar Springs Historical Society

 

Nina Babcock (left) and Grace Hamilton (right) working on the newspaper in later years. Photo courtesy CS Historical Society.

Nina Babcock (left) and Grace Hamilton (right) working on the newspaper in later years. Photo courtesy CS Historical Society.

If you have lived in or near Cedar Springs in the last 75 years, you have heard the story of how Cedar Springs became the Red Flannel Town—many times.

But do we remember the efforts of the Clipper Girls—Nina Babcock and Grace Hamilton—to get the Red Flannel town on the map?

When they answered the wire from the Associated Press, it was just the beginning. Metropolitan newspapers and the radio took up the cause and spread the word. They received a flood of letters from all over the United States and overseas inquiring about Red Flannel underwear. There was much more publicity than they expected.

In November 1939, Red Flannel Day was a bright spot in a time of war, when people could forget what was looming on the horizon. That year, the town played host to thousands of deer hunters on their way up north to the deer camps. Merchants and clerks wore red shirts or hunting togs and the town was decorated for event. Five men from Grand Rapids chose the Queen from candidates submitted to the Clipper.

Two “big-city gals” Grace Hamilton (left) and Nina Babcock (right) bought the town’s newspaper, The Cedar Springs Clipper, in 1932, and it was 1936 when they put Cedar Springs on the map. Photo courtesy CS Historical Society.

Two “big-city gals” Grace Hamilton (left) and Nina Babcock (right) bought the town’s newspaper, The Cedar Springs Clipper, in 1932, and it was 1936 when they put Cedar Springs on the map. Photo courtesy CS Historical Society.

After Red Flannel Day, orders for the red flannel underwear were received from as far away as Escanaba and Detroit, and other states such as Maine, Texas, California, Kansas, New York, Alabama, Rhode Island, Florida, and Wyoming, and from Canada and Great Britain.

They answered these and news articles appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City Star, Detroit News and Free Press, Michigan Tradesman, Atlanta Constitution, Life Magazine, Readers Digest, Independent Woman, and even True Comics.

The Kansas City Star sent a reporter to interview the girls and they were interviewed on National Public Radio.

The Clipper girls helped persuade a young man named Gerald Ford to run for Congress in 1948. As a congressman, Ford attended the Red Flannel Festival 25 times. His bus became a fairly common site on Main Street and the girls were always his faithful supporters. He went on to become Vice President and then President of the United States.

The Clipper Girls worked hard to establish the Red Flannels as a symbol of Cedar Springs. Because of their hard work, Cedar Springs had become known as the Red Flannel Town, which evidently it is not anymore.

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Festival proposes city pay to use trademark


By Judy Reed

 

It was 1939, when Cedar Springs Clipper editor Nina Babcock said the businesses decided to tag Cedar Springs as the “Red Flannel Town” and hold a festival. The name stuck, and has been used cooperatively by the city and the festival for many years. The recognizable logo of a pair of long johns hanging on the clothesline and the words “Red Flannel Town” or “Red Flannel Festival” can be seen all over the city—on street signs, city trucks, letterhead, the water tower, and signs welcoming people to Cedar Springs.

That could change, however, if the city decides it cannot afford a licensing agreement recently proposed by the Red Flannel Festival for $8,000—the same amount the city told the Festival last year they would need to start paying to cover services the city provides, such as police protection at the Grand Lodge, DPW work, etc. for Red Flannel weekends.

At budget time last year, the City of Cedar Springs had a deficit of $55,000, and cut services to all community organizations, and also made cuts to city staff. “We had to cut so deep that no one was immune,” City Manager Christine Burns told the Post last year.

They city decided to phase in the cuts to the Festival, and donors came forward to help cover the difference. The two entities completed an agreement for four years with the Festival offering to pay $8,000 each year to the city for services rendered.

According to documents the Post obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the RFF is now proposing a licensing agreement for the city’s use of the Festival’s trademark—for $8,000 per year, through 2015. Festival president Michele Andres said it’s difficult to determine what the trademark is worth. “What is the cost of someone’s identity and brand for 72 years? It’s been a shared responsibility—a quid pro quo. Now that seems to be over. The Red Flannel ad hoc committee thought that $8,000 would be cost neutral to both parties—to put it back where it used to be,” explained Andres.

The first indication that there was a problem with the city using the trademarked logos and text came in December, when the city ordered and began selling Red Flannel license plates and frames for the library fundraising program. According to Mayor Charlie Watson, Mayor Pro-Tem Christine Fahl was notified by the Red Flannel Festival committee that there was an issue of trademark infringement, and he told city staff to pull the plates until they could work through the issue. The Festival was on hiatus from November through January, and the Festival ad hoc committee (with three members from City Council—Watson, Fahl, and Pat Capek) met with the Festival committee.

According to documents and checks and invoices obtained by the Post, the RFF wrote the city a check for the license plates. Burns said the understanding was that the city would reimburse them next August for the plates they sold. The city then decided to write a check back to them right away, assuring them they would sell them all. But it was returned by the Festival, and they are working with the library to sell the plates. You can buy them at City Hall or the library (see story on page 7)

So why did the Festival pick now to enforce trademark rules with the city? “Obviously we support the library. But the board felt like it’s their duty to protect the trademarks,” explained Andres. “It’s created confusion—is it the city or the festival? We only generate revenue through donations or sales of our products, and we need to protect that. Anyone who wants to use trademarked items must get approval first.”

The RFF holds state trademarks on at least 10 different phrases and logos related to Red Flannels and the Festival is working on federal approval.

During the years that H.H. Cutler owned the main trademarks, only the Chamber of Commerce had rights to the marks, for $1 a year. That did not extend to the Festival or the city, according to a letter written to City Manager Frank Walsh in 1996 by lawyers for the children’s clothing manufacturer. Cutler later closed down.

The Post asked Burns what it would cost to remove the trademarked insignia from city property, if council decided to reject the Festival’s proposal. She wasn’t sure. “It would depend on whether it had to happen all at once or in phases,” she said.

Mayor Watson feels both sides want to work diligently to come to a compromise. “I feel both sides recognize we should work together for the betterment of the community,” he said.

“Working closely together benefits both the city and the Festival, and the community, with the economic impact the Festival brings,” noted Andres. “It’s critical that both organizations have open, honest, communication. We can’t do it without each other.”

The city will meet with the city’s lawyer on Thursday to discuss the proposal. According to Watson, they could come back with a counter offer, recommend council accept it, or that they deny it. He didn’t know yet what they would decide.

What do you think? Do you think the Festival should charge the city to use the logos? Do city taxpayers want the city to pay to use the trademark? Or is it time to develop something new? Send us a letter to the editor with your thoughts to news@cedarspringspost.com, and be sure to include your name, phone number and city or township.

 

By the numbers

Red Flannel Festival President Michele Andres told the Post last year that the 2011 budget for the Festival was about $90,000. To show how much the Red Flannel Festival has grown, total gross assets on the Festival’s 2010 tax return (the latest year available) were shown as $233,902. In 2004, the total gross assets were $4,625.

The 2010 return showed net total revenue of $57,346, with net expenses of $33,016. Net assets, including cash and savings, was listed at $130,250.

Schedule O showed gross expenses of Festival events at $45,161; and other expenses (including building and other expenses) at $16,489, for a total of $61,650. The largest single expense on Schedule O is advertising/printing, at a cost of $16,381. Gross income from fundraisers and events is listed at $65,940. The event that brought in the most money was the Grand Lodge, at $25,607 and the cost was $7,515.

 

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