Hundreds attended the Feb. 25 Say Cheese Please grilled cheese festival at Sutton Park in Palmetto and by the morning after, you could tell.
City officials expressed disappointment with festival organizer Frank Peter Giglio, whose return to Palmetto was already on shaky ground after it was discovered Giglio falsely used a veterans charity to promote his festivals, but has since stopped doing so.
Jim Freeman, city clerk, said Giglio’s first grilled cheese festival in Palmetto this past August left a bad taste in the city’s mouth due to the amount of garbage left behind. Freeman said that situation was discussed with the organizer prior to the Feb. 25 event.
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“He assured us that he would have volunteers handling the garbage,” Freeman said. “We had assurances they would take care of it and clearly they did not. It is really disappointing.”
Freeman said trash cans were left full despite there being a large dumpster on site. Many of the cans were overflowing onto the ground and trash could be seen scattered throughout the park.
Even worse, Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said, was the way the festival left a nearby church’s parking lot. Bryant said Sunday School children had to clean the mess and the church would not be offering its parking lot to the grilled cheese festival again.
This is totally on them and it was very clear how they were supposed to use the property and failed on every count.
Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant
“They totally abused it and aren’t welcome back,” Bryant said. “This is totally on them and it was very clear how they were supposed to use the property and failed on every count. It’s disrespectful to the city, the church and to the Veterans Historical Park. I don’t want any part of it. It was worse than last year.”
Bryant is calling for modifications to the city’s special function permits, whether it be a larger security deposit for festivals that have had issues, forcing organizers to hire city staff.
“Or we don’t allow them to come back at all,” the mayor said. “We have seriously got to make some changes because this can’t happen again.”
City Attorney Mark Barnebey said the city is within its rights to deny a festival that has a history of “issues.” However, city officials want more discussion on the matter and will address proposed changes at an upcoming workshop.