Tourism, music, art and sugar

• Alva Tourism considers funding requests


Marione Martin

Jodie Bradford (left) and Melissa Fisher report on Alva Chamber efforts to promote tourism and marketing. They requested another six months of funding from the Alva Tourism Tax Committee.

Tourism, music, art and sugar were all part of the Alva Tourism Tax Committee agenda Wednesday. All committee members were present.

There were no questions about the financial report which shows $661,311.06 in the bank with $427,511.06 unencumbered and available for tourism grants.

Alva Chamber Tourism

Alva Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jodie Bradford, accompanied by Melissa Fisher and Emma Cline, gave a progress report on the first six months of work on Chamber tourism promotion and marketing projects.

In February, the Chamber proposed to take over updating of the website that had been commissioned by the tourism tax committee with monitoring to make sure goals were accomplished. They proposed to wrap this in with social media posting and statewide print and other promotions.

Bradford asked Cline, the chamber communications technology specialist, to report on her work with social media. She handed out a summary of posts from March through July with the number of people reached plus engagements such as reactions, comments, shares and clicks. The postings are about events, businesses and places to visit.

Cline is also responsible for updating the website. She said Google searches are showing about 12 clicks per week, but this does not document those who use other search engines or go directly to the site.

In February the Chamber was granted $12,600 for the first six months of the project. Bradford said they have spent about $10,000 to pay for Cline's salary, $175 per month for the website, and other marketing.

The Chamber requested $14,100 for the second six months of the project including $3,600 for part time staff; $1,000 for travel, mileage and food; $8,000 for advertisements, and $1,500 for the website and service plan. Bradford described some of the statewide publicity for Alva including print advertisements in Travel Oklahoma, Oklahoma Outdoor Guide, Oklahoma Today and the Discover Oklahoma publication that includes TV commercials.

Chamber President Connor Martin, who is a member of the Tourism Tax Committee, said there has been a "complete turnaround" in tourism promotion efforts.

Dr. Charles Tucker made the motion to approve the $14,100 in funding, seconded by Melinda Barton, and the motion carried unanimously.

Nescatunga Arts Festival

Erin Davis and April Ridgway approached the podium to talk about plans for the Nescatunga Arts Festival to be held Nov. 6. The long-running event has usually been held the first weekend of June outdoors on the square, but last year it was canceled due to Covid.

Davis said they decided to change things up with a fall date and a change of location to the Woods County Fairgrounds. Actually, there are several locations. The quilt show will be at the Woods County Courthouse as usual. The new sugar show will be at Northwest Technology Center, located just north of the fairgrounds. If the numbers warrant it, the sugar show could overflow to the Women's Building at the fairgrounds.

In addition, Davis said there will be pop-up booths available in the windows of businesses leading up to the big day. She said these would be small displays and less expensive than booths at the main event.

The festival gives artists a change to display and possibly sell their work while competing for prizes. Crafters will display and sell their work. Food booths and entertainment are also part of the festival.

Ridgway spoke enthusiastically about the new Sugar Show. She was inspired to push for the event after attending the International Cake Expo in Tulsa. She said sugar artists have no place to show their work in Oklahoma so she's hoping to reach contestants from a wide area.

While many sugar artists work with Styrofoam bases, Ridgway said decorating cakes and cookies requires another level of expertise. She said divisions are planned for cakes, cookies and cupcakes which will be judged on appearance and taste.

Ridgway said the organization for sugar artists is ICES (International Cake Exploration Societe') but clarified while it sounds the same this is not the terrorist organization ISIS.

Martin asked if November will be the new date for the festival in the future, but Davis said they're just trying it out. They've had a good response from artists who appreciate being in a temperature controlled area rather than being subjected to the heat of June in Oklahoma. Ridgway said the sugar show might become a separate event if the numbers build enough.

Terri Parsons made a motion, seconded by Tucker, to grant the request for $9,400 for the Nescatunga Arts Festival. The motion was approved unanimously.

Lights Over Alva

Like many events last year, the Lights Over Alva music concert was canceled due to Covid. Kathryn Baugh said she and other volunteers are gearing up to welcome Northwestern Oklahoma State University students back to Alva.

After checking for all conflicting events, Lights Over Alva will be on Saturday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. on the square. NWOSU classes begin Aug. 16 at NWOSU.

Baugh said they were fortunate to be able to get the same four bands they had booked for last year and at the same price. Two of the bands have become headliners, but they agreed to the $1,500 booking fee like last year. One of the groups is now getting $5,000 for bookings.

It won't be just music. NWOSU coaches encourage their student athletes to attend to meet people and sign autographs for their fans. Several businesses will have booths to show students what's available locally. There will be games for all ages. Food will be available as well.

Marione Martin

Erin Davis (left) and April Ridgway laugh as Ridgway explains ICES is not ISIS. They talked about the Nescatunga Arts Festival and new Sugar Show to be held Nov. 6.

Since it's a family event, Baugh said parents of NWOSU students see it as a chance to visit them and enjoy the fun downtown. Local families are invited to get acquainted with the students and enjoy the entertainment.

Since the event seeks business sponsors, Norville Ritter asked what would be done with any surplus funds. Baugh said they will only use what they need from the tourism tax funds.

Parsons suggested the volunteer group find a campus affiliate for the event. Baugh said they've had some ties with the Student Government Association in the past, and she'll look into that.

Parsons made a motion, seconded by Barton, to grant $5,100 in tourism tax money for the event. The motion carried unanimously.

At the end of the meeting, the committee voted to enter into executive session to discuss a pending investigation and possible litigation. No action was on the agenda following the return to open session.


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