The Niagara Falls Blues Festival is an annual event here. It's been held since 2008, organized by blues aficionado Toby Rotella, and generally subsidized at least in part by the taxpayers of Niagara Falls. This year, Rotella asked for and will receive $3,500 to stage the event.
By contrast, the Niagara Falls Music and Art Festival, an annual event organized by music and art lover Rick Crogan, is taking no public money whatsoever. After putting on his first festival several years ago, Crogan quickly realized there was money to be made here as a festival promoter, cancelled a plan that would have made his event a not for profit, and stopped asking for any subsidy.
Two different men, two different philosophies.
What is interesting is the way another man, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, has dealt with Rotella and Crogan. With Rotella, there hasn't been a problem.
He's received as much as $10,000 from the city in a year. One year, he was denied funding by a city Council majority opposed to Dyster's spendthrift ways but, to his credit, he sucked it up and his festival came off without a hitch.
Crogan, rejecting the public subsidy altogether, received much rougher treatment.
The name of Becky Marchetti is well known.
It was Marchetti's allegations against Crogan that led to the promoter being indicted on a couple of felony grand larceny charges in connection with the first Niagara Falls Music and Art Festival.
The case was so perverted that law enforcement following Marchetti's bogus allegations that Crogan operated a not-for-profit when it was always a for-profit company led mixed law enforcement to charge Crogan with a crime that is not a crime if his company was a for profit company, which it was.
When shamefaced prosecutors woke up and saw they had been had they ended up offering Crogan a single petit larceny misdemeanor, which Crogan, who had spent more than $24,000 in legal fees accepted in order to avoid a lengthy and expensive trial.
No sooner had Crogan been charged, however, than Mayor Paul Dyster all but convicted him on Facebook, and then went public with his intentions to "save" the Crogan festival from the man who invented it.
Dyster's attempted treachery hasn't been forgotten by Crogan.
This year, Joseph Calato, founder and owner of Regal Tip, the world famous drum stick and percussion supplies manufacturer, will be honored for his lifetime contribution to the music industry.
A veritable Who's Who of area political leaders attended to honor the 94-year-old drum maven and entrepreneur with proclamations, including U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, state Rep. John Ceretto, county Legislators Dennis Virtuoso and Jason Zona and city Councilman and mayoral candidate Glenn Choolokian.
Conspicuously absent was Dyster, who was not invited to attend.
So Dyster will have to content himself at Toby Rotella's blues festival. The people of Niagara Falls will get to enjoy two fine events, one for free and one they're partially paying for.