The future of the Coventry Street Arts Fair is in limbo.
Sunday was the first fair of the summer, and as we reported earlier, although most of the day went smoothly, kids crowded the street near the end and refused to leave.
South Euclid and Shaker Heights police were called to help Cleveland Heights police disperse the crowd and stop fights.
“There were kids fighting, but it was among themselves. We’re dealing with kids that don’t care,” said Steve Presser, owner of Big Fun and a member of the Coventry Village Special Improvement District, which organizes the event. He helped police encourage teens to leave, but he said, “They didn’t want to listen.”
He said it’s possible that the next fair, scheduled July 24, will be canceled because of the incidents near the end and after the festival Sunday.
“We’re definitely looking at if we’re going to have a July festival in place,” he said. “Kids decided they didn’t want to respect the (fair) or each other.”
He said merchants on Coventry and city officials will meet sometime in the near future to discuss changes that could help avoid some of the problems of the past, and he hopes avoid ending the event all together.
One suggestion he offered is to charge admission and give out wristbands. Another is to shorten the fair an hour, so it ends at 5 p.m.
It was moved to Sunday this year to give vendors more time and to make the atmosphere more “family-friendly,” Presser said. Last year, the fair was from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on a few Thursdays throughout the summer.
“We have to talk to all the powers that be — the merchants, the city, the police — to find out if they feel comfortable (having another fair),” Presser said. “People have to understand this is a big decision, and it’s not made in a vacuum.
Presser sounded disappointed that the fair started so well but ended so badly.
“The good parts were wonderful. Initially it was just fantastic. We had a lot of families, a lot of kids having a good time. There was good music and the vendors did well,” he said. “The issue was that the kids didn’t want to leave.”