2nd September 04:45
OT Festival still seeking a winning bid
Here's a update on that theme park for sale. I don't think I can meet
the reserve bid. LOL
Festival still seeking a winning bid
By Mary Bulkot / The Citizen
The Sterling Renaissance Festival is still for sale, since the highest
eBay bidder did not meet or exceed the reserve price of $3.5 million.
But whether the festival is sold this season, next, or not at all, one
thing remains certain - the show will go on.
There's been some concern that because the festival is for sale, it
may not open next year.
"That's not so," said Virginia Young, a co-owner of the festival with
her husband, Gerald.
The couple will continue to operate the festival until it is sold and
"are looking for a buyer who will continue the festival and maintain
its integrity," Young said.
Auctioning the festival online was the idea of the Youngs' real estate
broker, Thomas Collier, of Coldwell Banker in Pittsford. The highest
bid, $1,199,300, came Sunday, the last day of the auction.
"We're not upset it didn't sell. In all honesty, we didn't expect it
to," Young said. "It did give us a lot of exposure to help the sale
along. It was a unique way to sell a unique property. I'm very
optimistic and encouraged by the response."
There were over 82,000 hits and over 50 bids. The auction also worked
to publicize the festival's sale.
Collier is talking with other prospective owners. He's narrowed it
down to three viable buyers, but hasn't entered into negotiations yet.
For reasons of confidentiality, Young would not disclose who the
possible buyers are, but "they're all in the entertainment business."
Selling a festival is a first for Collier, although he has sold
"The biggest challenge is finding the right buyer," he said.
The Youngs helped Gerald's uncle, Dennis T. Ouellette, establish the
festival in 1977. Gerald's training as a chef, and the Youngs
experience in food vending, proved invaluable.
Ouellette died the following year. Ouellette's widow, Caroline, and
then her son Dennis J. Ouellette took over the ownership of the
festival, while the Youngs continued to help operate it. Ouellette
sold the festival to the Youngs in 1989.
The festival has been on the market for five years. The purchase price
includes over 200 acres, an office building, food booths, stages, all
equipment, and costumes.
"It's a turnkey operation," Young said.
"It's time for us to retire, to get on to other things in life," Young
said. Those things include travel, hiking, fishing, and "spending time
with each other in a non-business way."
The Youngs want to make sure the integrity of the festival is
maintained, that the festival's new owners and any changes they make
will be positive ones.
The fact that no one met the reserve price on the eBay auction might
be for the best. One of the cons of selling on eBay is that if someone
meets or exceeds the reserve price, the deal is done.
"We couldn't control the buyer," said Collier, a factor which is
important to the Youngs.
"It's not just about money with them," said Collier. "They're looking
for a buyer who will maintain the integrity of the festival, keep up
its name and image."
The festival has an extremely high national reputation and is one of
the top Renaissance festivals in the country, despite its remote
location, he said.
"They put their lives into it," Collier said. "They gave 110 percent
to the festival. They're out there working every day."
The Youngs would like to help the new owner make the transition.
"We would almost insist that we do," Young said.
The Youngs would stay on a consultant basis "to help the new people
understand what's created the festival's success, so they can make
educated changes that would keep the festival's integrity."
"It's an important economic boost to the area," Young said. Over 1,000
people are employed by the festival. It's also one of the biggest
providers of summer jobs for youths in the area, Young said.
If the festival sells in the next month, the transition could be an
especially smooth one. The Youngs begin planning for next summer's
festival in September.
Having the opportunity to walk the new owners through a full circle,
from planning to realization, would be most beneficial, Young said.
"But even if it's three years down the road, we'll only be a phone
call away," Young said. The Youngs live in Sterling and plan on
"This is home."
Staff writer Mary Bulkot can be reached at 253-5311 ext. 235 or
"Some nights are like nothing I've ever seen before or will again."--Meatloaf