Reporting Jason Allen
KELLER (CBSDFW.COM) - When an annual Keller community celebration returns this month, a few months late, it won’t actually be in Keller.
Keller Fest is setting up in Fort Worth, the unlikely result of a search for a more fitting space for the event.
Slated for September 28 at Texas Motor Speedway, the largest fundraiser for the Greater Keller Chamber of Commerce will also coincide with the city-sponsored Rock the Park event, which will be held in city limits.
Kathy Young at the chamber said the possibility of a move started when the city didn’t want to close Bear Creek Parkway for the event, due to complaints from residents and businesses. That would have limited the chamber from bringing in carnival rides for the event. Staff from the city suggested the chamber use space at Keller High School or a large church property.
“We were looking at fields,” Young said. “We were looking at empty parking lots. We looked, it was extensive.”
The city said its last communication with the Chamber on the issue was in early May. Young said Mayor Pat McGrail was told during a meeting that the event may have to move out of town without assistance from the city. McGrail said there was no official communication that it would happen, and city staff heard about it through the grapevine.
“Not only did they choose to go to north Fort Worth which is their prerogative, but to take our name, the Keller Fest and take it to north Fort Rorth, I have a real problem with that,” McGrail said.
Young said the chamber is looking at the move as a benefit to Keller, and the potential to market the city to a new audience. A fair number of chamber members she said are not in city limits, and many residents in other cities consider Keller their actual hometown.
The scheduling conflict with the city sponsored event was unintentional Young said. Organizers didn’t see any events listed online, although the mayor said it was listed in a Chamber published book, and has been held on the same date for 20 years.
The move, and scheduling came as the chamber is searching for a new director. Keller officials have also publicly expressed frustration recently with Fort Worth failing to provide park facilities for residents. The city instituted new facility usage fees for non-residents for organized sports.
Both groups expressed a willingness to repair the strained relationship, and sort out the differences for next year.
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