City Manager Pat McGinnis said representatives from the Waterfront Film Festival — held in Saugatuck each summer since 1999 — approached the city several weeks ago to gauge interest in Grand Haven being the site of future festivals.
“The film festival takes places in the second weekend of June," he said. "They show dozens and dozens of films. It has been quite successful.”
The festival premieres a variety of smaller, independent films. It often generates considerable media and Hollywood attention, and draws significant crowds of artistically interested tourists.
“(Festival organizers) told us it was a need to grow the festival and add a little variety and spice,” McGinnis said of the desire for them to move.
Festival organizer Hopwood DePree said they haven't ruled out staying in Saugatuck next year.
“We’re just opening up the possibility for other towns,” he explained. “We still consider Saugatuck our home and look forward to holding (the festival) there again.”
DePree said festival organizers have received many requests in recent years to share what they have to offer with other communities in West Michigan.
“This feels like a natural progression that allows the event to evolve in a fresh way that benefits a greater number of businesses in a larger area,” he said.
While Grand Haven City Council members said they are excited about the prospects of the festival coming to town, they want to move cautiously to make sure all the bases are covered.
“If it costs the city money and the owner walks off with more than the city, it would not be a good deal for us,” Mayor Geri McCaleb said.
Councilman Mike Fritz said he doesn't want to make it appear as though the city stole the festival from Saugatuck.
“To come to Grand Haven would be nice, but I don’t want to compete and take it away from (Saugatuck),” he said.
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.