The Waterfront Film Festival has taken place in Saugatuck for 14 years.  Over that time, the Waterfront Film Festival has been very successful.

Saugatuck has been a great host city, but now the Waterfront Film Festival is considering leaving Saugatuck.  Some Saugatuck residents and city officials feel betrayed.

Should Waterfront Film Festival permanently stay in Saugatuck or consider rotating with other cities? 




Waterfront Film Festival has been called one of the best film festivals in the country.  Much of that success was made possible by the host city, Saugatuck.  Saugatuck invested money to help Waterfront Film Festival be successful.  The idea that the Waterfront Film Festival may leave is insulting to some, including Saugatuck's mayor.

WZZM reports:

"Why leave after 14 years and start over?" asks Saugatuck Mayor Jane VerPlank.

VerPlank says she's surprised the festival is looking elsewhere, even a little offended.

"They've gotten a lot of the venue for free, so yeah it's kind of insulting," says VerPlank.

The anticipated move comes despite increased attendance and upgrades to Coughlin Park. In fact, Mayor VerPlank says the city spent $10,000 on new circuit systems to improve movie quality and keep the festival coming back.

Expanding to other communities doesn't mean that the Waterfront Film Festival won't return to Saugatuck.  It seems likely that the film festival will return to Saugatuck many times, possibly even 2013.

“Our mission has always been for Waterfront to economically and artistically benefit the entire region of West Michigan, as well as to showcase its scenic beauty and wonderful way of life” said Hopwood DePree, co-founder of the non-profit festival.  The Festival, typically held in June, plans to move every other year to different locations in West Michigan, allowing additional waterfront communities to host the event.  “We’re not ruling out Saugatuck for 2013, we’re just opening up the possibility for other towns,” DePree said. “We still consider Saugatuck our home and look forward to holding Waterfront there again.”

Proposals from potential host cities must be submitted by September 14 for 2013.  Proposals for 2014 must be submitted by June 2013.  The announcement of 2013 host city will be made by the end of September.  Learn more about host city applications.

While Saugatuck may be disappointed to see Waterfront Film Festival go to another community, the film festival has the right to look out for its best interests.  Expanding to other cities in future years will earn the Waterfront Film Festival many new fans.  In the long term, it could benefit all.


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