Chamber President Responds to Homewood Days Dissent

As complaints about this year's Homewood Days keep flooding in to H-F Patch, Homewood Area Chamber of Commerce Board President Marty Mitchell provides some insight.

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.

Homewood Neighbor July 27, 2011 at 05:37 PM
Also, I'm still waiting for a RESPONSE from the Chamber to all of the interest raised here on The Patch. What a fantastic forum!
Teri K Baldwin July 27, 2011 at 05:40 PM
I have left my information on the HomewoodDays.org or whatever site twice now. On the page it says they will contact you within 2 business days. Today was the second time I left my info. Never heard from the first time. Let's see what happens now!
DJ Morgan July 27, 2011 at 05:47 PM
I don't know why you have not received a response email. Please let me attempt to find an answer to that for you.
Teri K Baldwin July 27, 2011 at 05:57 PM
I have volunteered for several things in the past and HAVE NEVER been contacted. I'm sorry to say I am not surprised I wasn't contacted. My email and all info except for the n/a were entered the first time. So, whatever could the reason be?
Scott July 28, 2011 at 03:15 AM
aaaahhhhhhh I care Homewood Girl!!! "Homewood past" was about residents and our local businesses working hand in hand to keep things "Home Sweet Homewood" for the future of our children as well. But "Homewood past" had leadership that helped coordinate things. Now the City and the Chamber of Commerce seem to not want to work. There has been a change from doing things ourselves to outsourcing everything. I don't know if this is do to laziness or incompetence. Either way when you have outsiders running things they will not care about residents or businesses. They will only care about making money for themselves. Unfortunately our City and Chamber are starting to act like "outsiders" not really caring about the residents and local businesses. If things go good they're the first ones to take credit but if there is failure they're the first ones to blame each other (as in City and Chamber blaming each other for Homewood Days) or they will look to blame others. I sure hope we can get back to "Homewood Past"....
Scott July 28, 2011 at 03:27 AM
To the Patch: Obviously you took the lead on Homewood Days and gave us a forum to vent. As you can tell by the comments we sure do appreciate it. I really think you guys can become the new place for local (Homewood at least, lol) news. The Southtown Star has completely forgot about the Homewood-Flossmoor area. In fact I believe there was just a small snipet about the Homewood Days debacle!! The Southtown Star should rename themselves to The Orland/Tinley/Palos/New Lenox/District 227 Star!!!! Thanks again!!! P.S.: Can you just "Copy and Paste" all these comments to the Chamber of Commerce. Or direct them to visit the Patch and they can look at these comments themselves. I'm not re-commenting on their website!!!!
Teri K Baldwin July 28, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Have you been able to find out why I wasn't contacted when I completed your form the first time?
Bob Levy July 28, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Kind of Off Topic but Feel that PATCH has developed(?) a new method of real communications. Just read a very interesting article that I think readers of this stream might wish to view: bloggers-and-reporters-why-we-need-both http://tucsoncitizen.com/dataport/2011/07/27/bloggers-and-reporters-why-we-need-both/
Karen Kurowski McHugh July 29, 2011 at 01:29 PM
Left my comment almost 2 weeks ago. No response. Not all that surprised. Keep hiding HACC. Keep hiding.
Teri K Baldwin July 29, 2011 at 03:41 PM
Still haven't heard from the Chamber of Commerce regarding my two volunteer forms for Homewood Days........
Teri K Baldwin August 02, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Today is Tuesday, August 2nd and I still have not heard from the Chamber of Commerce regarding my TWO volunteer forms for Homewood Days. So, what did I do? I sent in another one and asked why I haven't heard from them. Still no response to that one either........
Teri K Baldwin August 02, 2011 at 08:05 PM
I have now applied 3 times to Homewooddays.org. Still no answer from you or anyone as to why I have not heard back on any of the forms I submitted. Is this really the way the Homewood Chamber of Commerce wants to treat the citizens of Homewood - or at least this citizen of Homewood? I'd really like to know why no one is responding to my application.
Karen Kurowski McHugh August 03, 2011 at 02:16 AM
Got my reply today...at 5:47 pm. Anyone else get something similar? Bet they didn't even read what I sent. Three times. "Thank you for your input regarding Homewood Days 2011. All input received by the Homewood Area Chamber will be considered as we wrap up this years event and look to the future. The Homewood Area Chamber of Commerce appreciates your input as we work through the Challenge of change. Please check out our websight: homewooddays.org periodically to view the updates of planning homewood days 2012. Committees and sub committees will be forming soon. Marty"
Teri K Baldwin August 03, 2011 at 02:55 PM
I received an email this morning inviting me to be on the committee for Homewood Days for 2012. I accepted.
Bob Levy August 03, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Until I see some positive comment from the chamber in THIS thread, I have written them off as having no clue. There website (when I visited) was a joke and NOT a place for comments. Personally, this patch thread is a fantastic vehicile to view(and comment) on an important issue. To bad the "leaders" (political or commericial) do not participate. Maybe they are affraid and are more concerned in being Politically Correct?
Leslie Rissmiller August 03, 2011 at 07:22 PM
Just a side note - I was looking around the website. I know several people mentioned it was "slapped together". Is it me or is this a strange picture on this page? http://homewooddays.org/sitemap.html
Steve Burke August 03, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Leslie-- That's the new target audience of Homewood Days. That's how you get your $5 worth.
Teri K Baldwin August 05, 2011 at 03:22 PM
It's a strange picture.......
Lynn Shafer August 15, 2011 at 02:45 PM
To the person that suggested ONLY Homewood residents get in free-- this should be expanded to include Flpssmoor, Hazel Crest and Glenwood as many people are "just barely inside the dividing line and are part of the Homewood- Flossmoor school district -- as they should be--- and consider Homewood their town too and conduct the majority of their shopping and recreation IN HOMEWOOD!!!!!!!!!
chrisrsherwood@hotmail.com March 06, 2012 at 05:09 PM
As of today (3/6/2012), the HACC site is still under construction.... I filled out the form asking to volunteer. I'll let you know if I get any response.
Steve Burke March 06, 2012 at 10:25 PM
...and they still have the hooker... (http://homewooddays.org/sitemap.html) ...and she's right under "Site Directions" (like she's the new official tour guide of HF2k12) They really don't have a clue, do they? Or is this the new marketing technique? Reminds me of an old "Kids in the Hall" sketch...
Teri K Baldwin March 06, 2012 at 11:25 PM
And they still have no committees listed or any info on the site. I did receive an email from Mr, Mitchell and Ms. Pucia(?) stating that they would contact me about the different committees for Homewood Days 2012 soon and that they were looking forward to my input, etc. I have sent this email back to them twice since the beginning of the year asking when the committees were going to be formed. As usual, I have not heard a word from them. Oh well. I guess they don't want the citizens to help run Homewood Days or maybe they just don't want certain ones....
LocalRez March 07, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Folks, the patch didn't start up overnight. I'm not making excuses for the chamber but maybe you need to give them a little time to be able to get something together. Sometimes you have to hire someone to create the site or a committee to review the content - it's not like your personal facebook wall! You could always just pick up your phone and call them afterall. As far as the patch taking over for the paper? Well.. I think they have a ways to go before that would happen unless the entire world has given over to texting. This forum gives residents an easy way to comment, get a drift on some of the things going on around town and that is great but 2 suggestions I'll make: Please, can you learn how to create better article titles! "Teeth cleaning and sewers" or "Twisted Q barbque and Cremitorium" may be funny if your 12 but really, they are tasteless attempts at journalism. People on your mailing lists are already going to open the message anyway aren't they?? With the internet and HTML layouts you should be able to create a seperate title for each topic shouldn't you? that is kind of standard if you look at a paper... 2nd, if you really want a more robust forum you could implement a thumbs up and down link capability for each post - that is how most forums operate - so people can see others agreement/disagreement with the posters comments. I'll also mention it is a great way to silence perpetual posters who can dominate forums with their opinions.
Steve Burke March 07, 2012 at 05:34 AM
It's not that hard to create a decent website. Given that it's been under construction (something no company should ever post-- if it's not done, don't post it, rule since I've done them since '95-- remember the cheesy "under construction" graphics?) for over 6 months means they don't care. I have no idea who approved that god-awful website in the first place-- probably the same people planning Homewood Days. Did anyone think those clip-art pictures were appropriate? Would anyone here buy a product from a company with that website? Also, as to print, the Trib doesn't acknowledge the H/F area exists, and the H/F star and Southtown has become nothing. Talk to the countrywide patch editors about the tech stuff. I agree with the thumbs thing.
Bob Levy March 07, 2012 at 09:37 AM
I was the first poster on 7:00 am on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 in this thread. I will not waste time commenting about the website nor the press - The Patch included. I believe this type of "online" reporting that Ryan started is a MUCH better technique for OPEN TWO WAY communication and an indication of the direction real reporting should take. Much better than the popular social networking. What gets me upset is " maybe you need to give them a little time ". Again no comment on the web site but the chamber has access to THIS Forum and yet there has been silence. How much time do they need?
chrisrsherwood@hotmail.com March 07, 2012 at 07:15 PM
The web site isn't really an issue for me except that I'm left wondering what's their commitment to bringing back the "old" Homewood Days this year? I would like to know what's going on?? Good job reporting locally Patch (Ryan)!
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Editor) March 08, 2012 at 10:28 AM
Thanks! It's much appreciated.
Southside2 March 08, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Me thinks the Patch is a great way of keeping the reporting local! As Bob above says, the Trib doesn't care and the Southtown is on the way down. As far as the Fest website goes, it is the same exact one from last year with no substance and all they did was change the year to 2012! I wanted my band (from Homewood) to play last year and started early but got nowhere. I even called and emailed the Chamber and got no response from either. I don't think the "old" Homewood Days will work either at this point. Security is just impossible to police and takes manpower away from where it is needed. The remainder of the fests are small and cater to the residents and work well. The Fall Fest/Chili Cookoff is great! Also the Arts and Crafts Fair @ Irwin. Why don't we just keep it at that or set up something like Fall Fest and keep it to two blocks. One idea I had to keep it local was to set up areas per "subdivision" ie; Southgate, Dolphin Lake etc. That way at least the folks in your general area could meet and greet.
Teri K Baldwin March 08, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Bob Levy said it all!
chrisrsherwood@hotmail.com March 09, 2012 at 04:53 PM
The solutions seem simple enough to me. Close off only a couple blocks to traffic and do not fence it in. Let local merchants set up tables or tents free, or for a nominal fee. Close the fest down at dusk. Basically turn it back into a sidewalk sale with local food vendors and family oriented entertainment. Focus on the merchants and families. This isn't brain surgery folks. I have more ideas to fix this and would love to share them if/when the Chamber responds to my request to volunteer...


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