GLOVERSVILLE — After initially canceling Railfest for 2017, the organizing committee behind the annual summer event recently announced that it’s back on for August.
City officials said they were taken aback when the event was canceled via an announcement by Railfest committee members at a March council meeting. Committee chair Robin Wentworth, a former city council member, cited insurance restrictions by the city as the main reason.
Wentworth claimed the city does not allow bounce houses at any public events for insurance reasons. She said the attraction was a must for this year’s event after attendees of last year’s Railfest expressed disappointment over the attractions that were offered.
Mayor Dayton King said the city has no problem with bounce houses as long as the third-party vendor providing the attraction provides insurance and agrees to hold the city harmless in the event of an accident. He said in March that if the event were to remain canceled, he and other city officials would work to hold a similar event.
King said in the weeks after the announcement that a Gloversville-based company offered to organize and staff Railfest this year, a development that King said contributed to the committee deciding to hold the event after all.
“What cleared it was some public pressure,” said King on Wednesday, noting the strong public outcry over the event’s cancellation.
Wentworth, a frequent critic of King and the council, did not return a request for comment. King said Wentworth is difficult to work with, and characterized the announcement in March as political.
King said the city and the committee came to an agreement to find a bounce-house vendor that would supply a $1 million insurance policy and hold the city harmless. King said he’s happy the event can live on.
“Obviously I wish it didn’t have to be so dramatic. I wish we knew earlier in the year that they were having a hard time and came to us privately,” he said. “I just don’t think it had to be so stressful for everyone involved.”
King added that the city and its various departments, including the police and public works departments, were always behind the event.
“Everyone was going to continue to do what we need to do to make this happen,” King said. “I’m certainly happy the event is going to happen and our support was always going to be there.”
He added that given the public outcry over Railfest’s initial cancellation — and city officials’ support of the event — he doubts anyone thought it would stay canceled.
“People expected it to be on,” King said.
Railfest committee member Logan Barclay did not return a request for comment.
Railfest is scheduled for Aug. 5 at Trail Station Park on West Fulton Street, and will feature games, food, attractions and kids' rides.
The Railfest committee is looking for volunteers to staff the event. It can be reached through Facebook at www.facebook.com/therailfest.