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Bureau divvies up event funds

The bureau’s tourism allocations are contingent on city approval.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:26 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Flying acrobats, documentary filmmakers and a spooky haunted house are among those recommended to receive money from the city’s Tourism Development Fund in fiscal 2006.

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The Convention and Visitors Bureau released its recommendations for how to distribute the money in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. It received 13 applications requesting a total of $271,316. The board’s recommendations total $228,109 and are subject to the approval of the Columbia City Council at its Aug. 15 meeting.

Bureau Director Lorah Steiner said the application from the True/False Film Festival, a three-day event featuring independent, award-winning films, received a more-than-perfect score.

“They are the first applicant to score more than 100 percent,” Steiner said. “They not only do a great job with the event, but I think it’s the quality of the application, how they made their appeal and the fact that they have done their homework.”

Paul Sturtz, co-director of the film festival, said the tourism grant is important.

“It’s crucial for our festival because we will be spending a considerable amount of money bringing more than 75 filmmakers to town for the 2006 festival,” Sturtz said.

Steiner said the groups that receive the most funding are those whose events are growing and that show tourist appeal.

Columbia voters passed a 2 percent increase in the sales tax on hotel and motel rooms to make the tourism funding possible. Half the proceeds, or about $300,000, goes to tourism and marketing promotion; the other half goes to festivals, events and attractions.

The Twilight Festivals are also in line for money. Carrie Gartner, executive director of the Central Columbia Association, said there will be more attractions at next year’s festivals as a result, including a large circus at Flat Branch Park. She noted that 20 percent of the people who attend each year are new to the festival.

“Without funding, I think the quality of the big attractions would go down, and those sort of attractions wouldn’t draw people into Columbia,” Gartner said. “Eight years ago, when there was no funding, we had about 1,000 people attend. Compare that to 12,000 people in June, which was the largest we’ve ever had.”

One new event recommended for funding is Rocktoberfest, scheduled for Oct. 7 to 9 at the Midway Exposition Center. It would feature live music, a haunted house, hay rides, fireworks and food.

“I know in Arkansas, there is a similar event that started with 1,500 people, and now it’s at 200,000 people,” Steiner said. “This event has a lot of potential to grow, and that’s the reason we put into the guidelines that events could take place 10 miles outside of town — at places like the Boone County Fairgrounds and Midway.”


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