Barbecue Bash: Can Wildwood Save It?

Several local business managers say they hope something can be done to salvage the situation and keep the St. Louis Home Fires Barbecue Bash in Wildwood.

Reactions continue Monday to Friday's news that Wildwood will not be host for the annual St. Louis Home Fires Barbecue Bash. 

"When I heard about it, I was shocked," said David Coleman, branch manager, in Wildwood and president of the Wildwood Business Association.

Paul Farnsworth, general manager, , said the Bash perfectly coincided with the grand opening of his company's Wildwood location.  "The attention and positive energy it brought our direction is still being felt," he said.

In fact, the theater staff signed up nearly 600 people for their e-newsletter at a table at the Bash, and a car show was held in front of their art deco building during the Bash weekend.

"Something has to be done to save the event," said John Rooney, developer of the community. 

Rooney said anything that emphasizes developments occurring on the west end of town is definitely helpful.  "The Bash was gaining traction, people were looking forward to it, and the awareness it brings that Wildwood has an industry is good," he said.

Weekend conversations among local business managers reflected that they were disheartened to discover that Bash organizer Frank Schmer had been "disparaged by council members who did not support city funds be partnered with this event."

Will Frank Schmer reconsider?  Monday morning he said he will not make decisions about alternative locations for the event for a couple of weeks.  "The response has been wonderful to wanting to keep the Bash in Wildwood, but there's just been so much divisiveness and politics in recent committee and council meetings, I just need to let the dust settle," he said.

"It's been exhausting.  And the honest answer is:  I don't know if I would reconsider.  I just wish we weren't where we are."

Schmer said he keeps coming back to 'it's just a barbecue contest, so it shouldn't be causing all this trouble.'

Many people are wondering if Wildwood officials have any other similar relationships with other external organizations, such as the public-private partnership with Schmer.  The answer is yes.  A comparison, as verified with Joe Vujnich, Wildwood director of planning and parks, indicates a notable amount of money is supplied to other entities—both for-profit and non-profit—for management and assistance of various events. 


12-Mile Frozen Feet Run in January to St. Louis-based Big River Running
$1,100 Route 66 5-K Run and 1-K Kids Run in January and November to the Running Center $600 Farmers' Market to Gaehle Company for managing the event from May to October $16,000 St. Louis-based Front Guard to set up gigantic, outdoor movie screen for free Wildwood movie nights $500 per movie St. Louis-based 62 Sports Group for games and bouncy house, etc. $5,000 Trailnet to administer the Tour de Wildwood bike race $7,500 Subsidizing pool passes for Wildwood residents to Ellisville, Ballwin and Chesterfield pools (wherein Wildwood residents show proof of residency at nearby municipalty's pools and pay that city's resident rate, while Wildwood reimburses the other municipalities and makes up the difference for the non-residency rate) $16,125 typically Bands at Wildwood Night concerts in Town Center Ranges from $1,000 to $3,800 each concert night
Holly Ferris February 14, 2011 at 10:58 PM
I couldn't have said it better myself. This City/Private partnership isn't any different than the City paying for other activites to come or be held in Wildwood. It is just on a larger scale, due to the event being the largest in West County. Wish more people could understand this point. Holly Ferris Membership Director Wildwood Business Association
David Geile February 15, 2011 at 01:22 AM
The City is not run by a few Council Members. It is run by the majority of them, and Mr. Schmer was given the permission and utilization of City property, and the taxpayer money to run the event, by a super majority of The City Council. Mr. Schmer canceled the event, not Wildwood. David Geile City Council Ward One
Bill Kennedy February 15, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Julie, you've listed a great calendar of community events. Could you revise or expand the table to identify which of those listed events involves serving of alcoholic beverages and for which the City assumes a great deal of additional liability, as it would with a event such as the all-day, two-day Bash. I wonder if a follow-up story could list the past requests for activities on City property which were denied in accordance with City guidelines, specifically because they would have involved alcoholic beverages. Is the Bash the only event which has been given a pass on the guideline, while other worthwhile activities have been denied in the past? If so, why? I think the Bash is a great idea, but not at the untethered cost in public funds and with a much greater risk to the City. Now if that uncapped cost can be gambled by the organizer and local business people such as Holly Ferris, Chris Curran, Paul Farnsworth, David Coleman, etc, instead of the City and if the organizer and each of the vendors will sign a transfer of risk document which relieves the City of any legal responsibility derived from unmonitored sale of alcohol, then I'll be one of the all-day, two-day celebrants! Of course, if the gamble and liability is indeed assumed by those business people and vendors, the first thing they'd do is ask Mr. Schmer for better management and better cost accounting. The next thing they's do is ask their insurance agent if they have enough coverage for that type of risk.
Julie Brown Patton February 15, 2011 at 01:32 PM
Bill, thanks for the questions. I did spend some time last night trying to determine what the current city guidelines are for ANY entity requesting to use Wildwood-related or Wildwood-owned property for an event. Ironically, given the attention to the Barbecue Bash, the very last item on last night's city council agenda was the request from a Wildwood resident to repeat the Amazing Taste event held last year for the first time in Wildwood. This event is sponsored and organized by Lukas Liquors and is held solely to benefit a foster home charity called Angels' Arms. Last year, organizers moved the annual event from Ellisville to Wildwood to gain more space. I attended this last year, and it was a very pleasant event. The whole gist of the fundraiser is about tasting wines. Some fingerfoods and beers also were available. City council members approved this request last night, including assigning $1,500 of city funds to it to handle the typical trash, personal sanitation, public safety and setup accommodations, such as tents. My understanding is that this approval comes with the organizer adhering to six parameters as outlined by city officials, including an insurance-related clause that relinquishes the city from risks and provides indemnity. I had planned to gain more details today, per the availability of city staffers.
MartyMoose February 17, 2011 at 02:48 PM
Hi, To go along with Bill's mention about the taste of Wildwod being held by Lucus Liquors. Why not ask "Wines of Wildwood" if they'd like to take part in anything like this. They are located in the Town Center. Just a thought because it does sound like a good alternative as long as the money does go to the charity.


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