Craft group to fight city’s new Bancroft plan
JEI head pledges council complaint, says he’ ll go to governor if need be

       The JEI Promotions Company, which has been organizing the Saturday craft fairs in Bancroft Park in recent summers, is not happy about a recently announced city policy that would limit them to once a month there.
       Jackson Ivey of JEI said in an interview this week he plans to state his case during the citizen-discussion segment of the formal City Council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 11. “They don't see all the facts,” he said. “This is just an innocent little craft fair.”
       At the urging of Councilman Jerry Heimlicher, whose District 3 includes much of the Westside, council had agreed on the policy by consensus at the Sept. 26 informal meeting. Heimlicher said that the frequent craft fairs in the summertime hurt Old Colorado City merchants, because crafters can sell the same mass-produced items at lower costs due to less overhead; Heimlicher also frowned in general on profitable activities in the park at the possible expense of other cititzen uses.
       Ivey disagrees that the crafters cut into the merchants' trade. One reason is that 90 percent of their products are hand-made, so there is little competition with merchants, he asserted. In any case, he doubts any business drop-off occurs. “I'd like to see some solid evidence,” he said. “I don't think it's true. I think some people like to whine.”
       He said JEI is just a small company that only does the Bancroft fairs. He himself works two other jobs, he pointed out.
       The cost to rent Bancroft for a day in 2005 was $75. The company also has to pay insurance. JEI's booth rentals are $25 each, Ivey said. The typical number of booths available at a fair is 20 or so. “We make a little bit, but nobody is getting rich off this,” he said.
       JEI's main goal is to support local crafters, he said, which was a key reason for forming the company.
       He doesn't think the merchants should have greater say in park use than other people. “Just because they rent some property, they shouldn't be able to dictate what City Council does with the park,” he said. “It's still income to the city when we're renting it. They're cutting off their nose to spite their face.”
       Ivey's disagreement with the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group dates back four years, when the volunteer Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) was holding summer craft fairs as History Center fund-raisers. OCCA became concerned about crafter competition then, and it paid OCCHS $3,600, plus a free booth at Territory Days, not to hold any fairs at all in the summer of 2002.
       Ivey refers to this payment as a “bribe,” and said it led to the formation of JEI. The company started renting the park for its fairs in 2003, scheduling them on summer Saturdays when the weekly Farmers' Market sets up next to the park on 24th Street. This past summer Ivey said there were 12 crafter fairs in the park. He questioned how 12 days a year constitutes locking Westside residents out of their own park, as Heimlicher claimed at council.
       Ivey indicated he won't give up if City Council doesn't see things his way. He said he has been contacting various local media and elected representatives, and will even take his case to the governor's office, if he has to.
       Asked what he thought the governor might be able to do, Ivey said he wasn't sure, but that experience has taught him that things can get done when you “go over people's heads.”
       City Parks Director Paul Butcher said that because the policy is administrative within his department, he has “a certain amount of leeway” in how it is enforced. However, his understanding of council's direction intent is to limit crafters to once a month, on every fourth weekend, he said.
       In a related matter, Butcher said that a meeting of parties interested in using Bancroft Park next summer is scheduled Oct. 19 at the City Parks office. The meeting will not be to discuss the policy, but to try to work out dates for Bancroft's use in an amicable manner, he said.

Westside Pioneer article