City gives more money to Slavic and garden festivals

In this 2010 photo from the Buds and Blooms Festival, visitors gather at the world-renowned Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way. - Mirror file photo
In this 2010 photo from the Buds and Blooms Festival, visitors gather at the world-renowned Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way.
— image credit: Mirror file photo

The Federal Way City Council approved an additional $6,000 for the Buds and Blooms Festival, and approved an additional $22,000 for a Slavic community festival.

Buds and Blooms had already been approved for approximately $30,000 from the lodging tax fund, which is specially designated for tourism activities in the city. The nebulous Slavic community festival already had $3,000 approved for the event, and requested the additional funding to attempt to make the festival a mainstay in the community — like the Han Woo-Ri Korean festival has become in recent years.

Patrick Doherty, director of economic development, gave a brief presentation to the council on both groups’ requests for funding during the council’s Jan. 3 meeting.

The Buds and Blooms garden festival was cancelled last year due to budget and staffing shortfalls.

“After budget cuts last year, the city staff available to produce that festival were no longer available, and the committee of volunteers, that of course did tons of work to make that all happen, weren’t really ready to pick it up on such short notice,” Doherty said.

Doherty said a consultant was hired to review how to best get Buds and Blooms back up and running, and that the additional $6,000 being requested came as a result of the consultation.

Last year’s Slavic community festival pulled in almost 3,000 participants, Doherty said. The event consisted of a soccer tournament and a cultural fair at Saghalie Middle School. The goal with this event is to make it a signature event in Federal Way.

“They’d like to step up and become more of a fully embracing event of the greater community to share in the wealth of those cultures,” Doherty said.

As for the Slavic community event, council member Roger Freeman asked if it will be part of any greater “pan-ethnic” festivals in the city. Doherty said the festival will be open to all, but also said the city has found in the past that focusing on a specific ethnic community can actually increase the appeal of the event.

“We had consultants study the event market in the Northwest to determine what would be a good event for the Northwest, that we could be the home of, not just for our community, but for beyond our community,” Doherty said, referencing the beginnings of the Han Woo-Ri festival. “What they found is that pan-ethnic festivals are sort of common. That many communities have International Days, or whatever. Those are great, but they tend not to draw as much in the form of visitors from beyond the local community, because people in their own communities wait for their own version to come along.”

Doherty said the Slavic community festival could become the signature event of that community in the Pacific Northwest, much like Han Woo-Ri has become a signature event for the Korean community in the state and region.

“It does sound somewhat exclusive on one hand, but by keeping truer to the mission, it becomes it’s own attraction for the people that are interested in that, or (who) want a glimpse of another culture,” Doherty said.

The council unanimously approved the additional funds.


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