COLUMBIA — The City Council voted unanimously on Monday night to donate $100,000 to the Roots ’N’ Blues ’N’ BBQ festival after amending the proposal to assure that the event would be free to the public.
The money for sponsorship will come out of the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s unreserved fund balance, which has a balance of about $746,000, according to a memo from the city staff to the council.
“This is the year to prove to outside sponsors that this is something to sponsor,” Mayor Darwin Hindman said at the meeting.
The Boone County National Bank sponsored the festival as a one-time gift to Columbia last year in celebration of the bank’s 150th anniversary.
Lorah Steiner of the Convention and Visitors Bureau wrote in a memo to the council that the festival drew in more than 65,000 people.
Thumper Productions, the company that is organizing the festival this year, requested money from the Convention and Visitor Advisory Board in February to continue the event, Steiner said.
The board approved the request, but the council has the final say.
“The board voted unanimously because they believe in the event,” Steiner said. “It is very difficult to get a national or regional sponsor the second year. This is bridge funding to help get through the second year and potentially attract a sponsor for next year.”
Council member Laura Nauser supported the donation.
“This event increases the visibility of Columbia,” Nauser said. “The money will give them assistance to get this event off the ground and give them some capital infusion from the city.”
Council member and self-proclaimed blues fan Karl Skala also thinks this is a “tremendous opportunity.”
“It was a great event last year,” Skala said. “It is a healthy type of festival that will help the community make a name for itself, and I am in favor of it.”