Many members of the community have vented their feelings about this year's Homewood Days celebration, which wrapped up Sunday.
Ranging from frustration with the all-day-long $5 fee to criticism over vendor involvement, the Homewood-Flossmoor Patch Facebook page and H-F Patch comments section have been bombarded with feedback from residents who were displeased with this year's installment of the classic event.
"I have been a resident for 20-plus years and this was by far the worst (Homewood Days)," Homewood resident Dave Klupchack said of the event, which ran from Friday through Sunday. "It's not about making a buck, it’s about community."
Much of the backlash comes from this year's decision by the Homewood Area Chamber of Commerce to outsource most of the festival planning and execution to the company Star Events.
According to Marty Mitchell, the chamber did not intend for Homewood Days to lose its local flavor.
"It was too big of an undertaking for us to handle, so we brought in some outside help," Mitchell said, referring to the role Star Events played in this year's event.
Mitchell also said that Homewood Days has always charged $5 after 4 p.m., but two major factors influenced the chamber's decision to implement the charge all day long this year. The first was to provide money to organizations that helped volunteer at the event, such as the H-F Fencers, H-F Orchestra, Rotary Club and South Star Services.
According to Mitchell, the all-day entrance fee was also meant to help cover the rising costs of operation.
"This is our big fundraiser for the year and we need the money to continue our work to serve our three communities," Mitchell said. "I feel that it's a fair charge, (especially considering) children 11 and under are (admitted) free."
Homewood resident Kate Duff felt the Chamber of Commerce could have handled the financial situation better.
"I've heard of the issues that prompted the admission fee, but I wish the Chamber of Commerce had come up with a solution that didn't involve charging Homewood residents $5 to walk on their own streets," Duff wrote on the H-F Facebook page.
"Creating a disincentive for families to participate in Homewood Days is likely to lead to more problems, not fewer," Duff wrote.