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News TDA ponders funding requests for ‘Taste’ and first ever River Fest

The new boat ramp that is being installed on the Little Tennessee River will serve as the ending point for the “Anything that Floats” competition at the Franklin Daybreak Rotary Club’s River Fest scheduled for Aug. 23. The festival will be the first of its kind in Franklin. Photo by Travis TallentThe Franklin Tourism Development Authority held its monthly meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss project funding that surfaced at last month's meeting and to hear a new request for July's Franklin River Fest.

To begin, Doug Morton on behalf of the Taste of Scotland and Celtic Festival was present to field questions from members of the board.

Board member Cheryl Pullium pointed to the fact that Blairsville, Ga., will be hosting a similar festival to Taste of Scotland on the weekend of the local one, as a reason to be concerned.

“We know that there was going to be one in Asheville that weekend and now we see that there is also one in Blairsville. Won't that hurt the festival here?” she asked.

He pointed out that the local event that is scheduled for June 14, is the only one of those events that is free to the public.

“If you consider that most events have an entry fee of $25 and some families have three or more people to pay for, it makes ours sound pretty good,” Morton told the board.

The amount requested for advertising this year is $2,500, an increase from the $2,250 that the festival received last year. Morton is hoping to expand the target area for advertising this year.

“We hope to reach out to nearby areas like Atlanta, Charlotte, Knoxville, Rabun County and Pigeon Forge this year,” he said.

Chairman Candy Arvey referenced the guidelines established by the TDA last year when putting their budget into place as a reason to consider lowering the amount.

“We set a precedent when we said that events had to show that they were working towards becoming self sustainable. I don't think we can approve more than we allowed last year,” she said.

As a part of the funding process, those who request grants must follow a procedure that entails them to submit a report after the fact that details how the money was spent and the demographic of the visitors to the event. Following last year's Taste of Scotland Festival, that information was lost.

“I move that we approve $2,250 pending the submission of the report from last year's festival,” said board member Mike Gruberman. “You can get the form offline and fill it out.”

Upon agreement from Morton, the board voted to approve the request.

Lisa Leatherman, on behalf of Daybreak Rotary Club of Franklin was next on the agenda to make a request of $2,500 for advertising the Franklin River Fest that is scheduled for Aug. 23.

The request states that the event will be an annual event/fundraiser to help raise money for the Rotary Club. It will consist of a 5K race, a ducky derby, an “Anything that Floats” competition that will allow participants to float down the Little Tennessee River, food vendors, games, prizes, and more.

“This is the first of its kind in Franklin and we hope to make it an annual event,” said Leatherman.

The plan as presented is to market to local groups as well as surrounding communities and neighboring towns via billboards, print media, and radio spots. There will also be posters disbursed at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, Western Carolina University, Southwestern Community College, and other venues.

The board members who were present seemed impressed by the request and suggested that Leatherman come to the next meeting that is scheduled for June 9 at 5 p.m. at Town Hall in order to field questions from members who were not at Monday's meeting.


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