OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — A festival in western Kentucky for mystery writers has been canceled due to a lack of funding.
The RiverPark Center board of directors made the decision Tuesday during a meeting. The International Mystery Writers’ Festival had been scheduled for October in Owensboro.
RiverPark board chairman Jeff Danhauer told the Messenger-Inquirer that the board had a goal of raising $100,000 for the festival by June and didn’t reach it.
Board members began looking for alternative funding for the festival after Gov. Steve Beshear decided last year to veto state funding for the event.
The festival returned last year after a two-year hiatus.
“To protect the integrity of the festival, we have been working for months to secure funding to produce the festival at the caliber of excellence it has been in the past,” stated an email to festivalgoers on a mailing list. “Unfortunately, we did not secure the funding needed to present the festival.”
“It’s disappointing, but we still believe in the project, and we will continue to pursue sponsorships,” RiverPark board chairman Jeff Danhauer said.
Former RiverPark President Zev Buffman created the festival in 2007 and it has drawn well-known authors and performers including Mary Higgins Clark and Gene Hackman.
“Unfortunately, in this economy, the trouble is getting someone to believe in and support the project,” Danhauer said.
RiverPark executive director Roxi Witt said officials would keep trying.
“We were unsuccessful in raising money for sponsorships, but we’re hopeful,” RiverPark executive director Roxi Witt said. “We know we’ll be able to revive it in the future because it’s too much of a value to the community to lose.”
Danhauer said the decision was hard to make, but the board has kept the trend of new events in mind.
“This likens to any new idea,” he said. “It can start off as something small, then in a few years, it could bring 20,000 tourists to the city, like the Bar-B-Q Festival. (The mystery festival) can be self-sustaining, but just as with any new business, there’s got to be venture capital to start. We can be just as important as other festivals in Owensboro. We’re going to take the time to re-ignite it.”