Tourism Committee approves four events for funding
May 1, 2022
The Alva Tourism Tax Committee had a lot on the agenda for their special meeting on Wednesday. There were five requests for funding and discussion on a memorandum of understanding with the Chamber of Commerce. Four of the five requests were approved although two of those were not unanimous. The fifth request didn’t have enough financial information to satisfy the committee.
Chairman Norville Ritter opened the meeting with members Melinda Barton, Scott Kline, Terri Parsons and Connor Martin present.
After the approval of minutes from two meetings, Chamber Director Jodie Bradford provided an update on finances. The committee has $402,905.77 in available funds. A written report shows through December 2021, the committee has collected 51.54 percent of the year’s budgeted revenue.
Crazy Cool Boulevard Cruise
Appearing on behalf of R.A.C.E. and the Alva Chamber, Ken Schultz outlined plans for the Crazy Cool Boulevard Cruise to be held July 16 from 8:00 to 10:30 p.m. He said the event mainly draws people who come from the local area and grows every year. He said they are starting to see people from as far away as Wichita attending.
This year, a two-day swap meet has been scheduled in conjunction with the cruise. The no-fee swap meet is expected to bring in vendors from other towns and will not be limited to vehicle-related items. It will be located on the Chaffee property on Oklahoma Boulevard across from Sonic.
The budget shows a total of $7,870 in expenses for the event. The tourism committee was asked to provide $3,700 for entertainment and advertising.
Kline made a motion to fund the event up to $3,700 with Martin seconding. The motion passed 4-1 with Parsons voting no.
Big Cruise and Car Show
Joe Phillips, coordinator of the Big Cruise and Car Show, spoke about plans for the 21st event set for Sept. 16-18 in Alva. Sponsoring the weekend festivities are the Alva Chamber of Commerce and R.A.C.E.
He said there were no plans to change the events. The popular Whoa and Go and the Burnout are still included. Although the continuing goal is to have 500 cars registered, Phillips said they have yet to reach that. Last year there were about 470 vehicles on the list.
This year the request was for $27,700, down from last year’s $28,800. The money will pay for a long list of expenses including advertising, brochures, music, sound, sanitation, prizes, drawings, trophies, dash plaques, fuel vouchers, entertainment, building rental, office supplies, and youth activities.
The event usually fills all the available motel and hotel rooms, generating more tourism taxes for Alva to spend.
Parsons made a motion to grant the request, seconded by Barton. The motion was approved unanimously.
Alva Boys Summer League
Shane Feely, head basketball coach for the Alva High boys’ team, spoke about a new event. He and assistant coach Pete Phillips started the program last year, but this was their first request for tourism tax funds. The league games are played at the Alva Recreation Complex because the Alva High gym does not yet have air conditioning.
Feely said Alva will be hosting eight to ten varsity high school teams, four to five JV high school teams and four to five junior high teams. Varsity teams will play three games per day. JV teams play a minimum of one game per day. Junior high teams will play three games per day. An estimated 60 games will be played during the three-day period June 6-8.
The event will bring teams and fans into Alva for three days. Feely said the only team staying overnight will be from Balko. However, those attending will be purchasing fuel and eating at local restaurants.
In coming years, they hope to expand to host more schools. They would like to partner with NWOSU in the future to bring in more teams.
Both Martin and Barton explained the committee is interested in events that cause people to stay overnight since the motels and hotels generate the tourism taxes.
Martin made a motion to fund the event for up to $1,950, seconded by Barton. The money will be used to pay for game officials. The motion carried 4-1 with Parsons voting no.
Shane Feely next presented the request for $10,400 for the Alva-NWOSU Shootout. The first Shootout was held last year with tourism tax funding of $8,000. The event is sponsored by NWOSU, Goldbug basketball and Ladybug basketball.
Last year, the only teams that stayed overnight were from Wynnewood, Feely said. This year the teams participating include Catoosa, Western Heights and Pawhuska who are likely to need lodging to stay in town. Other teams secured for the Dec. 8-10 tournament are Pioneer, Seiling, South Central (KS) and South Barber (KS). In addition to the varsity tournament, eight JV teams will be playing a tournament in the old Alva High School gym.
Last year, two days of games were held at Alva High with the final games of the varsity tournament at NWOSU.
Information provided to the committee stated the tournament made $2,068.45 last year with the help of the tourism funding. Without that, the tournament would have lost around $5,400.
Committee members questioned the $8,000 asked for participation fees since the eight varsity teams (boys and girls) include Alva. Ritter pointed out that Share Trust donated $10,000 to the school to help with the tournament, and that was not included on the budget worksheet.
Martin asked what would happen if no one made a motion on the request. Ritter said he would ask for a motion and wait for 60 seconds. If no motion was made, the agenda item would die for lack of a motion. Ritter called for a motion and started the clock. Martin said he was in favor of basketball tournaments, but more information was needed.
After the allotted 60 seconds, Ritter declared the matter dead. However, he told Feely there was still plenty of time to gather the needed information and present his request again at a later date.
Nescatunga Arts Festival and Sugar Show
Erin Davis spoke to the committee about the long-running Nescatunga Arts Festival and the new Sugar Show. She said this would be the 51st year for the show which will be held on the downtown square on June 4. The quilt display will be in the county courthouse lobby where restrooms will be available to the public. The Sugar Show will be held in the eXtreme Building at the corner of College and Flynn. The rain location for the event will be at the 4 Generations Organic Building, 2878 College Blvd.
Davis said more children’s activities have been added including inflatables, a dunk tank, the Helena Lions Club train, and Bradt’s petting zoo. Naicee Sutter, entertainment chairman, is lining up lots of talent for the day.
Ritter asked if there were any plans to grow the event into multiple days. Parsons added the event seems to be scaled back every year.
Davis said the people who organized the event and have kept it going are not involved any more. She said they have only six to eight people working on it. At one time it was held over three days with about 50 people involved.
The festival will be followed by the Salt Fork June Jam with concerts and food trucks going into the night hours. The farmers market will also be held that morning.
Ridgway said they hope to grow the Sugar Show. She said she was inspired by a show she attended in Tulsa. Since then, the organization of sugar artists has disbanded. She said if people want to enter a show, there are none in Oklahoma. The nearest are in Texas and Missouri.
Speaking with enthusiasm, Ridgway said if they can get it going, she believes the Sugar Show will bring a lot of people. She said it could be expanded into a second day with workshops and demonstrations included.
Barton made a motion to approve the $8,800 request, seconded by Parsons. The motion passed unanimously.
Memorandum of Understanding
Dr. Kay Decker spoke to the committee on behalf of the Alva Chamber of Commerce. She said she has been working with the chamber about a year doing strategic planning. Chamber Director Bradford prepares three tourism tax grant applications every year. These include Bradford’s services to the committee, Alva Visitor Center support and tourism marketing. She believes the process could be improved by developing a memorandum of understanding to cover all three over the year.
Decker passed out a proposed memorandum of understanding between the Tourism Committee and the Alva Chamber which was checked by City Attorney Rick Cunningham. She also gave the committee members a Chamber outcomes report for fiscal year 2022.
Decker estimated Bradford spends about ten hours per week on duties associated with the Tourism Tax in addition to the use of technology, copy machine, office supplies, internet/phone and mileage as well as staff time and office space.
The Visitor’s Center, which also serves as the Chamber office, is staffed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The tourism marketing includes ads in tourism publications, website management and updating, social media posts, brochure development and marketing staff.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) lists the following payment for services provided:
• Tourism Tax Minutes and Documents Clerk Services $9,000 annually
• Visitor’s Center Staffing and Operations Services $9,000 annually
• Tourism Marketing Services $25,000 annually
The total cost would be $43,000 with one-fourth ($10,750) to be paid each quarter of the fiscal year. The MOU is set up to be effective on July 1, 2022, continuing through June 30, 2023. A 90-day written notice by either party is required for termination.
It was pointed out that previous funding agreements were made on different dates so some would effective into the next fiscal year. Those will need to be adjusted.
Ritter said the MOU cannot be approved until next year’s budget has been approved which will happen next month. He also pointed out the amount listed for Visitor’s Center staffing is more than has been approved in the past.
Ritter said the $43,000 asked is a little over 40 percent of the $103,000 spent by the Chamber last year. Decker said the Chamber is on pace for $120,000 this year so it would be about one-third of the current budget. She said about one-third of what the Chamber does is related to tourism.
Members of the tourism committee will have time to think about the proposed MOU before the next meeting.
Decker also said by the next meeting she hopes to have the results of a study comparing events held in Alva to the amount of sales tax collections to determine which are successful in boosting local business.