Ohio Renaissance Festival vs. Harveysburg: What’s going on in this conflict?

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

A Warren County judge has ruled the Ohio Renaissance Festival cannot detach from the village of Harveysburg, continuing what has been an ongoing struggle between the two. What does that mean?

Here is a breakdown of what you need to know.

What is the Ohio Renaissance Festival?

The Ohio Renaissance Festival is an annual event that takes place on weekends from Labor Day weekend through the end of October. The festival is set up to resemble a 16th-century English village during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Entertainment includes costumed performers, jousting, craft shops selling period-themed handcrafted goods and artwork. Comedy, music, and acrobatic shows are scheduled daily along with vendors selling renaissance-themed food.

How many people attend the Ohio Renaissance Festival?

The festival routinely attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year, according to Scott Hutchinson of the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

How much land do the Ohio Renaissance Festival owners have?

The total property, made up of several parcels, totals about 250 acres, with 30 acres making up the festival village.

Why does the Ohio Renaissance Festival want to split with the village of Harveysburg?

The ownership group of the Ohio Renaissance Festival, Brimstone & Fire LLC, is seeking to detach its land from the village of Harveysburg and make it part of neighboring Massie Twp.

The owners are unhappy that the village is threatening to impose a targeted entertainment tax that could raise ticket prices by as much as $2.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

What other benefits are the Ohio Renaissance Festival seeking?

Festival owners said “the property is far better aligned with the township for provided services than the village, who provides no services. Also, being part of Massie Township would allow us to continue to put the safety of our customers first and finally put in a turn lane into the park heading westbound on State Route 73 from I-71.”

PHOTOS: Ohio Renaissance Festival through the years

What did the court say?

Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge Donald E. Oda III ruled that Brimstone & Fire LLC, the owner of the medieval festival, did not meet all of the necessary elements for detaching from the village as required by state law.

What elements were missing?

Brimstone & Fire failed to prove it was taxed for municipal purposes in substantial excess of the benefits received from the village.

The judge also found that detachment of the property would have a substantial negative impact on the best interest and good government of the village of Harveysburg.

What would happen to the village of Harveysburg if the festival left?

Former Mayor Richard Verga said last year, “If that (detachment) would happen, it would be a catastrophic event for the village.” Harveysburg has a population of 600 residents.

“We have no industrial or commercial base,” Verga said. “We get by. The lack of revenue from police activity and the Renaissance Festival would be a severe economic impact on the village.”

Verga said the village, which does not have an income tax, relies on the festival payment (most recently $44,000/year), property taxes, and traffic fines for revenues.

What happens next?

David Ashcraft of Brimstone and Fire said they are proposing the creation of a Joint Economic Development District with Harveysburg and Massie Twp. to create a better structure for festival and local governments.

He also said the festival will be transitioning to date specific ticketing to better control crowds coming to the event.

RELATED: 30 reasons to enjoy the Ohio Renaissance Festival

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