Chesterton Tribune



Porter County Parks will not hold Spring Out festival this year

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The Porter County Park Department will not host the Spring Out to Sunset Festival at Sunset Hill Farm County Park this year, but some new activities might take its place.

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said at Thursday’s Park Board meeting that he’s hoping to hold a host of smaller events that could appeal to a wider range of visitors instead. Residents should be on the lookout for announcements for those events--some possibilities include concerts with brass and string bands or chamber music ensembles, comedy shows, and outdoor movie screenings.

The Park Board consented in November to not holding a Spring Out Festival in 2020 after staff recommendations. Lenckos said Spring Out is often plagued with bad weather. It is also the least attended and least profitable of the Department’s festivals.

Lenckos reported Thursday that he reached out to the Parks Foundation and the Department’s other community partners to see if anyone else was interested in hosting Spring Out, but no one bit.

The Kansas City Barbecue competition that has become part of Spring Out in the last couple years will still continue. Only sanctioned teams can register for the competition; however, Lenckos said the Department is looking into making the event more friendly to the public by organizing an amateur, “backyard’ barbecue contest and “Kids-Q” event where kids can learn some grilling and food safety basics by cooking with the help of adults.

Staff Report

Lenckos said 2020 has started off well since Parks Staff determined the Department nearly tripled its revenue goal in 2019. Lenckos attributed this mostly to rentals, and the work of Events/Rental Coordinator Madison Binkowski. Lenckos also said the Department opened summer camp registration in January, and summer camp is already 5% full.

The Winter Lights Festival and drive-thru lights display was a success, Lenckos said. The Department brought in its average amount in donations from the drive-thru, and staff is already contemplating some new additions to the festival next year, including bounce houses, carnival rides, and ice sculpting.

The program guide is due out in February. A local vendor will print it, and the Porter County Library is sharing the printing costs for six pages.

Lenckos also encouraged locals to check out the Parks social media for a partnership where the Duneland Photography Club is seeking and sharing photos of Porter County’s parks.

New Board Organization

Board Attorney David Hollenbeck made a reminder that the County Council changed the composition of the Board in a resolution passed Oct. 17, 2019. The resolution, following a change in state law allowing County governments to change the way park boards are composed and appointed, and changed the Porter County Park Board from a six-member board to a five-member board.

The Porter County Board of Commissioners will now appoint two members (who cannot be of the same political party) to the Park Board instead of one, and a member will be appointed by the County Auditor. The change took appointing authority for two seats away from the Porter Circuit Court Judge and did away with the Board having an ex officio member from the local extension office.

Last week, the County Council reappointed members Craig Kenworthy and Drew Armstrong. The Commissioners are slated to make their appointment Tuesday, and County Auditor Vicki Urbanik has a Jan. 15 deadline to make hers, according to the Council.

Hollenbeck said its his legal opinion that the Board remains in its current composition until all new members have been appointed.

IGRS and Croquet

David Ransem reported the Illiana Garden Railway Society at Sunset Hill hopes to expand to running trains on Sundays as well as Saturdays. They plan to have two dates where they run only Thomas trains and one day for circus trains in 2020.

Michael Sawyier, attorney for the Northwest Indiana Croquet Association, reported the group is making progress on cost estimates for the championship croquet courts and adjacent practice area they have proposed to build at Sunset Hill. The group will foot the bill for construction and received approval last month to begin lease negotiations with Hollenebeck.

Posted 1/13/2020


Posted 1/13/2020




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