My family and I have lived in Carmel for about five years now and have attended Carmelfest three of those years, including this year. We have always felt fortunate to live in Carmel, and in past years I really felt the sense of community with Carmelfest. I think that was due in large part to the open firehouse, local talent show, local vendors and the friendly KidZone.
This year, however, I was very disappointed with the KidZone “wristband only” policy. I have two young boys who in years past have been able to enjoy a bouncy house or game or two. For young kids with sometimes spotty weather, the ability to buy a few tickets and do just a few activities was just right. It added to the sense of community.
With only the wristband, which was priced rather steeply in my opinion, this sense was gone for me. I do appreciate the efforts to continue to grow and change a festival so it doesn’t get stale, and we did notice some new activities in the KidZone. However, the pricy wristband didn’t make much sense for our family. Instead of paying for this wristband, we opted to visit with and feed the animals (the only activity not requiring a wristband). If tickets had been an option as they had in years past, I expect we would have happily waited in line to purchase some.
In addition to simply not wishing to pay this much for a KidZone wristband, I personally feel strongly against the message that it sends about CarmelFest. I realize we live in a very fortunate and generally affluent city. However, not all who visit CarmelFest may have the means to pay $25 per kid to be able to enjoy some rides. The Fourth of July, particularly, seems a chance for our community to be more inclusive, not less.
My own kids took the news well that they would not be able to go in the bouncy houses. And they certainly enjoyed the animals. In addition, I particularly want to thank the Carmel Fire Dept. for opening up the fire house again this year. My boys loved the chance to get a close-up look at the engines and meet firefighters. They clearly go above and beyond as members of this community.
My hope is, next year consideration may be given to bringing the tickets back, perhaps with discounts for pre-sale online or with the wristband as an option.
Jen Lis, Carmel