COLUMBIA — Thumper Entertainment reimbursed the city the $38,000 owed from last year’s Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Steve Sweitzer of Thumper Entertainment, the company in charge of the festival, said he wanted to present the council with the check in order to move forward with this year' event. The check was for city services rendered during the 2008 festival.
Terry Woodruff of Thumper said the money presented to the council came from personal sources since last year’s festival lost money, Woodruff said.
Woodruff, Sweitzer and Nichole Thieret of Thumper Entertainment met with the council during its pre-council meeting to discuss concerns about selling tickets at the festival.
During that meeting, Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade, who said he was originally "not very excited" about the idea of ticketing, said he supported Thumper’s plans.
“I think what you have proposed is very reasonable,” Wade said.
Wade said he refused to support any ticketing proposals or the contract however, until the $38,000 from 2008’s festival was met. Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill seconded Wade’s concerns about going into the festival while still carrying the 2008 debt.
Woodruff then told council members Thumper had a check to cover last year's debt to present to the council Monday night.
Ticketing has been a contentious issue for the festival, but Woodruff said the ticketed area is not going to be the majority of the festival. A large part of the footprint is free, Woodruff said.
In regard to ticketing, people who purchase tickets in hand would receive tickets at that time. There would also be a will-call place for ticket pick up or people can print tickets at home. Ticket prices could range from $10 to $25, depending on when they're purchased and number of days attending.
Children 12 and under will be allowed into the ticketed area for free. Thieret said employees will monitor people who bring nonpaying children into the ticketed area, which will help with crowding issues. There will be paid security at the check-in point of the ticketed areas.
Sweitzer also discussed a plan that’s still being developed, which would allow residents to volunteer their time in exchange for a ticket. Thumper has not released any details about that program yet.
In addition to discussing last year’s debt and ticketing for this year’s festival, council members and Thumper representatives discussed the cost of this year’s festival.
Ward said one of the consistent themes he has heard from his constituents has not been a resistance to the ticketing policy itself, but a resistance to tickets if there is a city subsidy for the festival.
The city provides services to the festival, and there is a contract proposed that will have Thumper Entertainment owing the city around $40,000 for this year’s festival. Wade said the city will be a sponsor. As a sponsor, Sweitzer said the city would receive free tickets to distribute any way it wanted and would be part of the festival's advertising.
At the end of Monday's meeting, Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe raised concerns about the ban on chairs and umbrellas in the ticketed area. Hoppe said she was concerned about the lack of seating for the disabled or the elderly. Sweitzer said they are conducting a study addressing that issue and want people who need to sit be able to sit. There will be picnic tables in the footprint, but seating in ticketed area is still being looked into.
The ban on umbrellas is primarily a safety issue and is also aimed at trying to reduce the amount of unnecessary obstructions in the ticketed area, Sweitzer said.
The council accepted a report and asked for a resolution about the festival to vote on at its July 20 meeting.