City commissioners are in the mood for a downtown party, even if it requires closing down parts of New Hampshire Street and making a substantial donation to the party fund.
Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to provide $20,000 in funding to help pay for Get Downtown, an event that will attract about a dozen bands to downtown Oct. 3-4.
Commissioners also agreed to allow the organizers to block off the 800 block of New Hampshire Street during the two-day event, and agreed that the festival could sell alcohol.
"It looks like it could be a great event," said Commissioner Boog Highberger.
Several organizations have banded together over the past two years to host an event featuring bands, food and festivities prior to a KU home football game. The past two years, the event has closed Eighth Street down between New Hampshire and Massachusetts streets.
But this year organizers want to make the event bigger by stretching it out over two days and moving it to the 800 block of New Hampshire street. The upside for the city should be that more people will attend the event, which will not charge an admission. Jason Edmonds, a board member of the new nonprofit group - Just Like Lawrence Inc. - that is organizing the event said crowds could be upward of 10,000 people over the two days.
"And if we do this right, they'll want to come back to Lawrence," Edmonds said.
But the larger event comes at a higher price. The past two years, the city has contributed $5,000 to the event. This year's $20,000 donation will cover about 25 percent of the event's overall costs, according to the organizers - who also include local music promoters and downtown bar owners Brett Mosiman and Mike Logan. The city will take the money from its Guest Tax Reserve Fund, which receives money from the special tax charged on hotel room rentals.
The event will require the loss of some downtown parking. Parking in the busy city lot on the western side of New Hampshire will be prohibited from about 6 a.m. on Oct. 3 to 6 a.m. on Oct. 5.
City Commissioner Mike Amyx - who owns a barber shop next to the parking lot - voted against the event because he was concerned about lost parking for downtown businesses.
The event - which will have a rock climbing wall and other attractions for kids - will run from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Oct. 3 and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Oct. 4. The Downtown Lawrence Farmers' Market, which also takes place on Saturdays in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street, will be part of the event.
A list of bands for the event should be released by promoters later this week.