Prior to 2000, Railroad Days was overseen by a not-for-profit group of community members and other volunteers, which was responsible for all aspects of the event (organizing, planning, getting volunteers, planning the parade, booking entertainment and vendors, etc.). All profits from the event from fundraising, sponsorships, carnival revenues, etc. was returned to the account to be used for future festivals. The City of West Chicago provided no direct monetary contributions to the festival, but did provide in–kind police and public works services.
In late 2000, the City learned that the not-for-profit group was not able to pay several of the outstanding invoices from the event that year, and the leadership of that group had disbanded. After considerable discussion, the City Council decided to cover those expenses in an effort to ensure that the vendors returned to the event in subsequent years. Afterwards, the West Chicago Lions Club volunteered to assume the role of the former not-for-profit group, which continued through 2004.
Beginning in 2005, the City of West Chicago has allocated $80,000 annually for Railroad Days, in addition to contributing between $15,000 and $20,000 in in-kind services. At first, the City hired an Events Planner to handle all aspects of the festival, with the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce being contracted to do such starting in 2007. At first, both parties shared the revenues associated with the carnival, but later a change was made to permit the Chamber of Commerce to keep all revenues from such in an effort to reinvest the proceeds into the festival.
In 2015, the Chamber of Commerce informed the Public Affairs Committee that it wished to be responsible for coordinating the 2016 Railroad Days event, which would likely be its last. The impetus for coordinating the festival one more year is that 2015 was a tough year weather-wise for Railroad Days, and so the Chamber wanted to end its oversight on a more positive note. The 2016 festival was a roaring success, and at a Public Affairs Committee meeting, the Aldermen learned that the Chamber had netted $40,000 from it. Nevertheless, the City understood that it would be responsible for future events, and planned to budget funds accordingly, including hiring a Special Events Coordinator, which was a recommendation contained in the City’s Strategic Plan.
In late 2016, the Chamber approached the City and indicated that it wanted to continue to be responsible for Railroad Days. In response, the Chamber of Commerce was challenged to reduce its reliance on the monies expected from the City, and to reinvest profits into future festivals; the challenge was accepted. A five year contract was inked between the agencies, which had the following funding amounts:
The Chamber of Commerce requested flexibility into what components are included in the festival; previously, the City required that there be a parade, fireworks, beer tent, entertainment, etc. The City Council stressed the importance of having a parade on Sunday, and encouraged the Chamber to contact local non-profits for volunteers to assist with such. Other than that, the Chamber of Commerce has the sole authority to determine what other festival components are included.