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Dew Days loan the right choice ... for now

The Farmington City Council appears ready to throw a lifeline to Dew Days.

Council members voted 4-1 Monday to direct city administrator Peter Herlofsky and city attorney Joel Jamnik to prepare a loan that will help organizers of the summer festival get out from under more than $23,000 in debt from this year's event and put something in the coffers to start planning for next year. It's a move that reverses an earlier decision, made without a full council present, but we think it's the right choice.

Done right, Dew Days is a benefit for Farmington -- for the businesses, for the residents and for the city itself. It's a marketing tool that draws people to town. It gives them a reason to come see what Farmington has to offer. That's a good thing. And it's the reason extending the loan is the right thing for the city to do.

There's a catch, though. Look back at that last statement and there are two very important words: "Done right." Dew Days only works as a marketing tool, after all, if people actually show up. And the last two years that has not been the case. Attendance has been down, and the people who did show up were in many cases frustrated by the way the event was run.

Some of that disappointment came through in the council's discussion Monday. Julie May, the only council member to vote against preparing the loan, criticized Dew Days organizers for not doing enough fundraising. So did council member Christy Jo Fogarty, who has been supportive of offering help.

The necessary changes go beyond a little out-of-season work, though. The organizers who are taking over Dew Days have to look closely at the event and decide what works and what doesn't. They have to produce something that will draw a crowd.

Some of that discussion has already started. Organizers are already looking at new ways to get people downtown and keep them there.

For Farmington's sake, we hope it all comes together. If it doesn't, and if organizers find themselves with another big debt next fall, it might just be time to say goodbye to a Farmington tradition.