Upland Lemon Festival returns in June as city inks deal with new contractor – Daily Report


The Lemon Festival is back.

Upland’s major event – which has regularly drawn 60,000 people – will return for a three-day race from June 10-12, the city announced this week.

Due to cancellations in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when the festival returns to the city’s historic downtown in about three months, it will be more than three years since the last one was held in April. 2019.

Save the date signs have already started appearing on Upland Facebook, Twitter, instagram and social media sites TikTok on Tuesday, March 15, less than 24 hours after the city council approved a contract with a private vendor to host the event.

The city signed a five-year contract with Soundskilz Inc., a Temecula-based event production company that is experienced in hosting community festivals, concerts and cultural events.

Former food and transport vendors, with priority over highland-based businesses, will be notified by Soundskilz early next week when it opens a live portal for apps, Soundskilz President Stephen Clayton said on Wednesday, March 16.

Soundskilz produces the 4th of July celebration in Huntington Beach, which is the second-largest Independence Day event west of the Mississippi River, drawing 500,000 attendees each year, Clayton said. His group also hosts the City of La Quinta’s Tequila & Tacos Festival as well as concerts at the South Coast Winery Resort & Spa in Temecula.

“Our business is focused on municipal and civic events,” Clayton said. The Lemon Festival, he added, “is exactly what our team does, which includes our brand that brings a hometown feel.”

Aside from two consecutive dismal years, the city was stuck without a contractor when Fairplex Learning Centers, a nonprofit educational wing of the Pomona-based group, informed the city that it no longer wanted to produce the event. . TLC at Fairplex had been hosting the Lemon Festival since 2012.

The town event—still held in downtown Upland—started small in 1997 and has grown, sometimes hosted by downtown merchants. With COVID-19 cases declining and stores, restaurants and schools opening, the city wanted to host the Lemon Festival this year, which celebrates Upland’s citrus heritage, but surrendered. realized that she did not have the capacity to organize it.

Five potential companies declined a city request, including Kevin Lyman Group, Fairplex, C&C Concessions, RK Diversified Entertainment and a former Fairplex manager, according to a city staff report.

The city went with Soundskilz because the company was willing, and the company agreed to be paid entirely from festival revenue, up to $50,000.

There is no cost to the city, City Manager Michael Blay said.

“They (Soundskilz) are responsible for all costs, excluding barricades. They will pay for police, fire, overtime and security,” he told the city council.

He said part of the reason for a five-year deal was to allow Soundskilz to continue the event, even if it doesn’t make a profit the first or second year.

Clayton said his company is gearing up for an event that will make money.

“Nobody’s in business not to make a profit,” said Clayton, who went to UC Riverside and played on the basketball team.

Some residents worry that the use of a for-profit contractor, along with contract restrictions, will hamper the flow of revenue to nonprofits, which have been deprived of this source of funding since 2019.

“I’m concerned that not all of the money will go to the nonprofits, which has always been one of the things we’ve done with the Lemon Festival,” said Linda Trawnik, former president of Historic Downtown Upland. . “Some of that money has to go back downtown.”

Mark Hill, who helped start the festival, told city council he was also worried about bypassing the city’s nonprofit groups.

“I would like the proceeds to go to the downtown merchants association,” he said. “That was the original purpose (of the festival).”


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