Andy Clock’s statement

Statement on Resignation as Ypsilanti Heritage Festival Coordinator

Last night Ypsilanti Heritage Festival president David Nickerson asked me to resign as festival coordinator. Mr. Nickerson cited my contentious relationship with members of city council and staff and other unspecified concerns, and stated that he had gathered the necessary votes on the board to remove me. Though a significant portion of the board was unaware of and disagree with these actions, I have agreed to resign.

First, I’d like to say that I understand that the board members who took this action did so with the best of intent for the future of the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival. These board members and I have developed fundamental disagreements on how best to manage the many challenges facing the festival, including how to address issues created by the City of Ypsilanti events policy and fee schedule, staffing and volunteer shortages during the event, and how to best secure the financial future of the festival.

The truth is this is probably for the best for everyone involved. I’ve grown frustrated with the level of support our volunteers, as festival organizers, see from our own board of directors as well as from the city. I don’t think it’s a secret that I have some pretty public disagreements with more than one Ypsilanti city official regarding the city’s special events policies that predate my time with the Heritage Festival. After six years of working with events in the city from the Ypsitucky Jamboree through the Heritage Festival, I’ve witnessed things that make me question how business is done in Ypsilanti and I generally haven’t hesitated to say it. Don’t misunderstand; I know there are some amazing people doing really great work for The City of Ypsilanti, but there are also some really frustrating decisions being made that are counterproductive to growing the community and furthering economic development. As a resident I’m hoping to see a more open, responsive, and cooperative unit of government that better understands and works with organizations like the Heritage Festival to bring visitors and economic growth to Ypsilanti. I haven’t always expressed those sentiments in the most professional way, and that is my own shortcoming, but I still stand behind that assessment.

Managing the Heritage Festival has been the toughest, most stressful, and most challenging period in my life. I made some monumental mistakes along the way and there are certainly some things I would have liked to do differently. In the end, I’m proud of what I accomplished with the Heritage Festival and the direction the event took under my management. Our team of volunteers worked hundreds of hours against impossible challenges and produced some really fantastic events with a whole lot of love for the Ypsilanti community. In 2012, the board turned to me and said essentially: “This is what we’ve got left, can you make a go of it?” and our volunteers, community partners, and I set out to build an event that reflected the great things we saw in our community, and I think we were successful in that. However, the challenges faced securing the long term financial health of the festival require a skill set beyond my own, and the political challenges probably need a gentler touch. Putting on the Heritage Festival was mentally and physically exhausting and still worth every minute of work, but I’m looking forward to new opportunities and challenges.

The Heritage Festival was founded to bring Ypsilanti together; to show pride in the community, help community groups find volunteers and raise funds, and celebrate the things our community has accomplished. It still has that mission today; hosting dozens of community groups and raising thousands of dollars for the Kiwanis, Boy Scouts, Rotary, local churches, veteran’s groups and more against a backdrop of some of the best arts, entertainment and family events the Ypsilanti area has to offer, and all still free to our guests. I hope the festival continues for years to come, and that the community finds new ways to support the event for future generations. Thank you to everyone who supported me during the last three years, and I’m looking forward to working with you again on new events that help build the Ypsilanti community.

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