HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) – A popular Hilliard festival that has taken place for decades is not going to be happening this year.
Old Hilliardfest, organized by the Hilliard Civic Association (HCA), was scheduled for Sept. 9, but organizers announced it’s canceled this year, saying it was a difficult decision.
“The money was not there, we needed a lot more than we could come up with in the amount of time we needed to come up with it,” Erin Pearson, HCA board member and vendor coordinator for Old Hilliardfest, said. “In the end, it really came down to the budget and what happened throughout the past couple of years with COVID and losing sponsorship.”
Pearson also said inflation contributed to not having enough money for a festival this year, a decision that caught community members and vendors by surprise.
“It was a disappointment for sure,” said Mat Vross, one of the festival’s past vendors. “I was very, very surprised to see that. I’ve done that event for the last four or five years now, and we’ve been going for years and years, it’s always been a wonderful event.”
Vross has been going to the festival for more than 10 years, first as a community member and then as a vendor. He owns One T Mixcraft which sells beer bread mixes. Vross estimates he does 15% of his annual sales at Old Hilliardfest.
“For me personally, it’s my second largest event of the year, so it’s a lot of money,” he said. “And it’s disappointing to lose that but, at the same time, I understand.”
Melissa McKenzie, owner of CeCe Hope Style, was also disappointed about the situation. She grew up in Hilliard and this was going to be her first year as a vendor at the festival.
“We have to prepare for some of these big events months in advance,” McKenzie said. “So the first thing I thought is, ‘No. I just created all these designs, where am I going to use them?’ That was the first initial kind of gut ouch and then it was just more of, ‘Well then, what do we need to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.’”
The festival has been going on for more than 30 years. Organizers said that at its peak, between 8,000 and 10,000 people attended. Pearson’s family has been involved for more than 20 years and her father has been involved for more than 30 years.
“There’s always a possibility,” she said about a possible comeback for the festival. “The civic association still exists. This year, it just wasn’t going to happen, but since we’ve seen a lot of support, maybe we can make something happen next year. It’s always a possibility but obviously but right now it’s kind of an unforeseen future for us.”