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A meeting last week between the Marilla Town Board and the committee that plans the annual car show in July turned combative, with each side blaming the other for an event that was less successful than the year before.
Vinnie Beisiegel, chairman of the annual show that draws thousands to Marilla for two days each July, accused the Town Board of being lax on control issues and of charging higher insurance costs. Beisiegel said the costs the town is asking the committee to absorb are too steep.
He also blamed the fire company for raising the rent on a field used to park cars. Others blamed competition this year from a fire company beer tent for the decline in donations to Mercy Flight - which benefits from the proceeds.
The car show was initiated nine years ago as part of the town's sesquicentennial at the urging of then-Supervisor John Foss, who asked Don Darrow, currently a member of the Town Board, to run it. The show has been held each July since, with different people in charge.
"As soon as the car show became a success, people started to look at it as a cash cow," said Darrow, who was particularly critical of the parking charge on the fire company grounds.
Marilla Supervisor George Gertz, also a member of the Marilla Fire Company, said the car show is not a town-sponsored event but still costs the town thousands of dollars. He said a $1 million umbrella insurance policy to protect the town from lawsuits costs $1,500. Also, the hiring of several off-duty Erie County sheriff's deputies for crowd and traffic control and wages for four highway employees paid extra for weekend duty of garbage and trash disposal costs an extra $8,000.
"Our insurance carrier says we are underinsured and wants us to have more coverage due to the size of the event, which the carrier said needs $2 [million] to $3 million in insurance," he added.
Gertz told The Buffalo News he would like to see a smaller-profile event, a show without nationally known personalities or a flea market, no motorcycles and a limit on the number of show cars.
Councilman Warren Handley suggested a permit be required, with regulations, for such events.
Gertz noted that last year, $35,000 was raised for Mercy Flight; but this year, only $10,000 was raised. He blamed the decline on the higher costs of booking "too many stars" for the show.