May 6, 2013 8:41:56 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
Columbus Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said she encourages people interested in organizing festivals that would bring visitor traffic to Columbus to apply before the May 10 deadline to be considered for grant funding during the second half of Fiscal Year 2013.
Carpenter said thus far she has only received one grant application during this application cycle from organizers of the already-existing Dream 365 festival. If accepted, pre-event funding would be granted at the beginning of the next fiscal year. The bureau has not yet received applications regarding new events, but she said she has spoken with parties who have shown interest.
First-time applicants would be required to come before the CVB Board of Directors during their May 20 meeting and ask for their event to be considered for funding either as a tourism or quality of life event. The board would make their decision at its June meeting.
She expressed interest in additional start-up festivals, noting more events stand to further establish Columbus as a tourist destination.
"I would encourage any new group or new festival that wants to promote their festival and maybe they don't have adequate funding at this time but they're willing to raise money and be a partner with the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Funds are available and we're eager to work with new organizations and new applicants," Carpenter said. "What we want to create is an atmosphere where we promote Columbus 365 days a year. We want there to be so many things for so many people that they come here on a chosen basis."
Carpenter said tourism events can receive up to $15,000 in funding, of which 25 percent is required to be spent on advertising and promotion. A maximum of 25 percent can be used for entertainment. Funds can also be used for print/ad production and printing and postage of promotional materials. Quality of life events can be funded up to $8,000. Funds for those events can only be used for advertising, print/ad production, printing of promotional materials and entertainment, but no set amounts must be spent on any of those items.
So far this fiscal year, the four festivals that have received CVB funding -- Market Street Festival, the Memphis BBQ Invitational, Dream 365 and Grilling on the River -- have been successful in achieving the board's mission of bringing visitors to the area, Carpenter said. She is evaluating how each one has fared in terms of attendance, organization and ability to generate extended stays in Columbus.
"We're getting research information back that shows after an event how many room nights were used and what the approximate amount could be adjusted for that particular event," Carpenter said.
Carpenter said she has not received applications from organizers of other events that have been held previously, including Caledonia Days, Roast'n'Boast, Seventh Avenue Heritage Festival and the Tennessee Williams Tribute.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.