As we await final numbers on the 2015 South Jacksonville Celebration and Concert in the Cornfield, it is the opinion of My Social Jacksonville that the concert must be allowed to take place in 2016, regardless of the financial numbers of this year.
While we fully expect to hear of a significant loss for this year’s concert, South Jacksonville residents have to remember that the Celebration and Concert in the Cornfield leadership turned wholly over midway through the process for this year. The alleged mismanagement in previous years by Sheila Meyers must be weighed not only against this year’s combined effort of Meyers and, eventually, Paula Stewart and Kevin Eckhoff, but also a full year under Stewart and Eckhoff. In order to have a true understanding of where we are as a community with this event, Stewart and Eckhoff must be given an opportunity to run the Celebration and Concert for a full year with all decisions on them, rather than inheriting decisions from someone else that they can’t change.
We had an opportunity to be a part of this year’s Concert in the Cornfield, with both my wife and I serving as ticket booth workers, and were able to get a behind the scenes look at how things were being run. Admittedly, I questioned the selection of now-Trustee Stewart as the head of the Celebration Committee. I had read her blog posts (I believe there were two) about the changes in our community and the effort that it took to bring them about. I will admit to not being appreciative of the way that I thought Mrs. Stewart was interpreting not only my efforts, but also those of Tyson Manker, Mike Woodyard, and others.
However, I am also a big enough person to admit when I’m wrong about something… and I was wrong in my initial read on Paula Stewart as a leader for the South Jacksonville Celebration and Concert in the Cornfield. For that and for what it’s worth, I offer this public apology to Paula and pledge to work with her in whatever way that I can to help make next year’s Celebration and Concert a success, if she’ll have me.
We must remember that the funds used to pay for the concert are to be used specifically for ways to promote tourism in our community. That fact, above anything else, at the moment, is key. Some may see a loss of tens of thousands of dollars – if, in fact, that is the case – and say, “That money could have been spent on (insert non-tourism use here)!” No, it couldn’t have been. Yes, I would personally like to see additional tourism-driven events in South Jacksonville in 2016 and beyond… but I don’t believe that it would be wise to take the Concert in the Cornfield off of the calendar, at least for next year. Paula and Kevin, along with the committee members that worked alongside them, deserve a year wholly of their own control to show how things should be done before we eliminate the concert.