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Published: Friday, 6/18/2010

Rally by the River returns under private control

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After two summers with no Rally by the River, the downtown waterfront event will be reborn tonight under a private promoter rather than a taxpayer-funded nonprofit.

Toledo concert promoter Mike Scott admits some people have been irked by his ticket price.

"I know I am going to do it right but it's just if the community will support me with a $20 ticket," said Mr. Scott, who also hosts a jazz show on WCWA (1230 AM).

"In their minds, it's Citifest, and it's not Citifest," he said. "In their minds, they think it's the city of Toledo and it should be free."

Gates open Friday at 5 p.m. and tickets are $25 at the gate. For future rallies, tickets can be purchased in advance for $20.

CitiFest Inc., which organized major events downtown such as the Rally by the River, Fourth of July fireworks, Ribs on the River, the Labor Day Festival, and the Holiday Parade, shut down Dec. 7, 2007.

Some of those events, such as the holiday fireworks, have been continued by the city with the help of private sponsors.

CitiFest received $75,000 in the city budget in 2007. Then-Mayor Carty Finkbeiner late that year said he ordered the independent review of CitiFest's books after learning Oct. 30, 2007, that it had a $40,000 overdraft in its checking account and was requesting funding of $91,848 from the city. Mr. Finkbeiner also said Citifest did not meet a managerial or fiduciary responsibility to the city.

Mr. Scott stressed that the event is now privately funded and is still a bargain.

"I have gotten national acts, four bands total, and I will have music for 6 1/2 hours, so there are all sorts of pluses for this rally," he said. "Is it worth $20? Of course it is, it's 6 1/2 hours of music and this same time last year, people paid $35 to see War at Centennial Terrace in Sylvania [Township], so why wouldn't you pay $20 to see the same band down by the water?"

Tonight's Rally by the River will feature War, The Cheeks, Funk Nation, and River Drive.

Skid Row, Dokken, and L.A. Guns and the Toledo group Fire will play the event on June 25 in Promenade Park.

On June 26, Survivor, Pat Travers, Altered Ending, and Toledo's MAS FiNA will be on stage, starting at 4:45 p.m.

Steve Herwat, Toledo deputy mayor of operations, said the city waived the fee to use the waterfront park and is supporting the event also by providing fencing for the stage and beer area.

Yes, beer will be sold.

"I think it's great that Mike Scott has brought this back to downtown," Mr. Herwat said. "Part of the mayor's mission is to give people a reason to come downtown."

The city has "no financial exposure" for the event, Mr. Herwat said, and Mr. Scott has purchased his own insurance for the event.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessinfa@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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