SOUTHINGTON – Recreation Director Dave Lapreay will serve as coordinator for the 2019 Apple Harvest Festival.
The Town Council chose Lapreay after receiving a higher than expected bid for the position from Melissa Cocuzza, who ran last year’s festival. She’ll remain sponsorship coordinator.
“I think it’s a new opportunity for us. There’s a lot of overlap between the Recreation Department and really one of the largest recreational events our town has,” said Chris Palmieri, Town Council chairman and Apple Harvest Festival committee chairman.
Cocuzza had a $25,000 contract as festival coordinator for last year. She requested $37,000 to coordinate this fall’s event.
Last week, the council voted to provide a stipend of $15,000 to Lapreay and $5,000 to Julie Berardinelli, his assistant, to organize the festival.
Tom Lombardi, a Town Council and festival committee member, said the move made sense financially and was a good fit for the festival.
“It should create a little more stability and consistency,” he said. “You’re working with public works, you’re working with police. (Lapreay) is already connected.”
Last year was the festival’s 50th anniversary. Palmieri said two features of that celebration, a laser light show and a performance by national music act Bowling For Soup, were well received. The committee needed to free up some money to fund those features in future years, however.
“We’re trying to maintain those,” he said. “We had to make some changes in order to accommodate those favorites.”
The 2018 festival netted about $13,000, according to Lombardi. Good weather helped the festival, he said. Some expenses were related to special celebrations for the 50th festival.
“I think it was a great year. Melissa did a great job, especially considering it was her first year doing the festival coordinator position,” Lombardi said.