More than two dozen popular festivals in Haywood County are at risk of losing funding from the county’s tourism agency, hampering the ability of organizers to advertise and promote their events.
Grant funding for festivals, typically ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 a year, would be cut off after four years under new guidelines being considered by the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority. The money would instead be funneled to new, up-and-coming festivals and initiatives.
“We felt like there were enough new events coming in that needed help getting started,” said Marion Hamel, a member of the tourism authority board.
Long-running festivals that have come to rely on the funding year after year are monopolizing tourism dollars at the expense of start-up events desperate for seed money to get off the ground, Hamel said.
But if the money dries up to promote signature festivals — perennial favorites like Folkmoot USA, the Church Street Arts and Crafts Festival and the Apple Festival — they may no longer attract the giant crowds of the past, organizers say.
Meanwhile, the new festivals may be a flop and fail to pick up the slack.
“People come up with an idea for a new event every day, but it doesn’t mean they can make it happen,” said Buffy Phillips with the Downtown Waynesville Association. “Is it going to a be a quality event that is going to put heads in beds?”Read the full article