With the holidays in sight as summer draws closer to an end, Franklin’s Tourism Development Authority was faced with numerous grant requests for several upcoming events to be held locally. TDA Chairwoman Candy Pressley was on vacation, therefore Summer Woodard substituted in her place.
A grant request made by Dr. San Ho Choi, Nantahala Hiking Club (NHC) Vice President, was made in the amount of $500 to help advertise in print media the upcoming national Family Hike Day on Sept. 29. The event is scheduled to be held at Standing Indian.
According to Choi, the event aims to introduce more people to hiking as a family, to promote healthy living, the introduction of new families into Macon County, and above all, to introduce newcomers to the Appalachian Trail.
“This year we’ll try to advertise with the [local] papers, and send out flyers to all the businesses,” said Choi. “We would like to have a better year this year.” Last year, Choi explained, inclement weather contributed to a low public turnout for the event.
The NHC, an organization of approximately 200 volunteers, works to maintain roughly 58.6 miles of the trail which snakes through Macon County. Since 1968, the NHC has volunteered this service, reportedly saving the U.S. Forest Service around $100,000 a year in labor. There are 12 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the wilderness of southern Macon County, and NHC is one of 31 trail maintaining clubs along the 2,180 mile long trail which covers 14 states.
“I think we should endeavor to see how this goes,” said TDA member Michael Grubermann, adding that if the event proves successful, it will influence future grants on the event. Grubermann motioned that the board pay the $500 requested for advertising in regional media. Fellow member Vickie Springer seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts
Nikki Corbin, on behalf of the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, then approached the board requesting $10,000 for helping sponsor all events slated for the month of November. The funds would pay for radio, newspaper, billboard, mail-outs and “email blasts” promotions.
“Our November line-up will enhance tourism in the town of Franklin drastically, drawing people from other areas to the town of Franklin for these specific events,” read Corbin’s grant request. “We will use the cash flow to help promote travel and tourism in the Franklin area.”
Corbin then distributed a map of where the majority of visitors came from at past events, which markedly indicated theater visitors from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“The people that are coming to the theater are more out-oftowners than in-towners,” said Corbin.
Due to the sizable request, and the need to assess the availability of funding for the current fiscal year, TDA member Matt Bateman motioned to table voting on the request until the October TDA retreat meeting. Grubermann seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Franklin winter events
Linda Schlott, director of the Main Street Program, then made two requests of the board for the promotion of holiday festivities traditionally held in downtown Franklin.
First, $3,500 was requested of the board to promote the annual Christmas Tree lighting event on Friday, November 23, as is normally requested by Schlott. This night marks the beginning of the Letters to Santa program, along with a Cookies with Santa event the following Saturday. The sought funds would also fund the promotion of Winter Wonderland, to be held on Friday, Dec. 7, in downtown Franklin from 5 to 9 p.m. Live music, ice sculpting, wagon rides and more are traditionally the focus of the family- friendly event.
Then, Schlott requested of the board the use of two billboards to promote the upcoming PumpkinFest and Winter Wonderland events in downtown Franklin. “Anything you can do is appreciated,” said Schlott.
Heatherly motioned to grant the requested resources, with Grubermann seconding. The motion passed unanimously.
Downtown merchants seek StreetFest support
Several merchants representing downtown businesses on Main Street requested of the board $6,000 to pay for advertising costs and equipment for their planned monthly event StreetFest.
According to Martha Holbrook, proprietor of Rosebud Cottage on Main Street, the festival is a monthly Friday night “block party,” promoting downtown shopping, dining, music and an outdoor movie. The event, according to the grant request, brings “hundreds of people downtown, both tourists and locals alike.”
The aim of the event, would be to showcase the small town appeal of downtown Franklin. Holbrook, along with Life’s Bounty proprietor Tony Hernandez added that young people and families, ages 24 to 44, were there target demographic as visitors of the event. Additionally they stated that social media interaction would be monitored to gage the tourism attendance or appeal of the event.
According to an attached project budget, $5,600 of the approximate $10,000 needed for the event would pay for the rental of a 26 foot movie screen to be played in the parking lot of Town Hall, while $2,800 would be used for printing and print media.
Prior to voting on the request, Town Attorney John Henning advised that because the group is, as of yet, informally organized, that it should revive itself as a non-profit organization “to have some official state standing.” He also advised that insurance for the event be considered by the organization.
“I can assure you we’re going to do our best to activate this [organization] by Friday,” said Hernandez, who along with Holbrooks, indicated to the board that it was already their intention to resurrect the former Downtown Merchants organization to represent them.
TDA member Deb Heatherly motioned to table the matter until next month’s meeting so that the merchants would have enough time to organize and find proper insurance opportunities for the event, which is scheduled to be held in late August, September and October. Springer seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.