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Harveysburg, already fighting to keep Renaissance Festival, faces potential dissolution

The Free Lancers deliver hard hits and thrilling action at the Ohio Renaissance Festival.
Ohio Renaissance Festival
The Free Lancers deliver hard hits and thrilling action at the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

The tiny village of Harveysburg in southwest Ohio has been in a legal battle to keep the Ohio Renaissance Festival in its borders. Now, it’s facing a new challenge: on Nov. 7, voters could dissolve the village entirely.

A sample ballot for the November election in Harveysburg includes a mayoral race, two city council seats up for grabs, levy renewals for operating expenses and the police, both with increases – and the proposed surrender of Harveysburg’s corporate powers.

A majority yes vote on the measure added by citizen petition would dissolve Harveysburg, making the 550-some residents and roughly one square mile of land part of Massie Township.

Harveysburg has been home of the popular Ohio Renaissance Festival since 1995, when the festival grounds annexed into the village from Massie Township. In December, the festival’s parent company, Brimstone & Fire LLC, filed a civil suit in Warren County Common Pleas Court to detach – meaning the Ren Fest would stay in the same location, but would legally go back to being within the township. Ohio law allows farmland to detach when it meets certain criteria.

The move came after a Harveysburg council member suggested an entertainment tax on the festival’s tickets.

The effort to dissolve the village entirely revolves around new permit fees that some residents felt were excessive.

It’s not the first attempt to end the village. The Dayton Daily News reported in 2014 that residents launched an effort to dissolve after turmoil involving two village employees.

Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.