SOUTHINGTON — The Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve a contract with a new Apple Harvest Festival coordinator.
The council chose Melissa Cocuzza, the festival’s sponsorship coordinator, to also coordinate the town’s yearly celebration.
After receiving proposals, the council voted in January to appoint Michael Lukaszewicz of Lukaz LLC as festival coordinator. He backed out the morning after the vote, saying he didn’t have the time to run the festival due to other commitments.
Cocuzza was the “runner-up,” according to Town Council Chairman Chris Palmieri, who polled the council late last month about accepting her bid of $25,000 and officially voting on her contract after she had already started work on the event. He said it was urgent to get Cocuzza on the job quickly, since planning needed to start for this year’s festival.
“We’re very fortunate to be in a spot that we had three excellent candidates,” Palmieri said of the proposals.
Planning for the festival usually begins the day after the previous event. This year the fall festival celebrates its 50th anniversary.
On Monday, Palmieri said Cocuzza had begun her sponsorship work and overall festival planning.
The council also voted unanimously last month in favor of Cocuzza as sponsorship coordinator, a job she has done in the past. Her sponsorship coordinator bid was $5,000 plus a percentage of commissions.
Prior to Monday’s vote, council member Victoria Triano said hiring the same person as sponsorship coordinator and festival coordinator wasn’t unusual.
“We have had folks that have done both jobs in the past. This isn’t a break in any sort of way.” Triano said.
The previous coordinator, Champagne, didn't submit a bid this year. Champagne said a family medical issue has taken more of his time, but that he's enjoyed his years with the festival.