More changes could be coming to the Okra Strut, Irmo’s signature festival.
Mayor Hardy King is crafting a plan that he says will end confusion on who is in charge by making clear that the seven-member panel overseeing the event is an advisory instead of independent group.
“It will clean up little gray areas, better define the chain of command,” he said.
The step would mean the panel could only make recommendations on festival operations, with the final say being up to Town Council. “We’re going to give them some parameters,” King said. “We’ll set some boundaries.”
Kirk Luther, chairman of the panel, is concerned the changes will be “detrimental to the welfare of the festival.”
King’s proposal comes as the 42-year-old festival finished in the black for the first time since 2006 after Town Hall took charge of finances.
An investigation by Richland County deputies concluded red ink last year was due to sloppy bookkeeping and poor management by festival leaders, not criminal activity.
King wants to develop goals for use of festival proceeds that could change yearly, with civic beautification for the community of 11,000 residents among the possibilities.
The festival held each September has a permanent home in new Irmo Community Park after years of uncertainty about its location amid complaints about traffic congestion and noise.
Other town leaders are taking a wait-and-see approach on what King is seeking.
Councilwoman Kathy Condom wants to make sure any changes aren’t seen as damaging by civic groups who mostly put on the gathering.
“I don’t want to lose our volunteers,” she said. “They’re the heart of the festival, the ones who make it work.”
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483