By DOTTY NIST
A total of 21 events have been recommended to receive sponsorship grant funds from the South Walton Tourist Development Council (TDC) in 2012 and 2013. Members of the tourism council voted on May 15 to recommend awards ranging from $2,500 to $50,000 in marketing grants for the 21 events.
A total of 24 eligible events had applied for the funding.
The decision took place at the tourism council’s May 15 special meeting in the TDC conference room.
Eligible events are ones that promote tourism in Walton County and that bring substantial numbers of overnight guests to the county.
Funding for the grant awards comes from the council’s New Product Development account, which is filled by the third “cent” collected in bed taxes. Safety and lifeguard services are also funded through this account.
Applications for funding are reviewed against funding criteria by a panel composed of TDC staff members and members of the TDC’s advertising and public relations consulting firms.
Events termed “experience events” are eligible for funding of up to $10,000. “Signature events,” which are large multi-day events, may receive up to $50,000. Funding for the 21 events totals $425,000.
TDC members discussed signature events being considered for recommendation in detail at the May 15 meeting. Experience events had been discussed at a previous council meeting.
Signature events recommended for up to $50,000 in funding were: Taste of the Beach, 30A Songwriters Festival, and the Seaside Half Marathon & 5K; recommended for up to $40,000 in funding was ArtsQuest; and recommended for up to $35,000 in funding were the Sandestin Wine Festival, Annika & Friends, and Run to STA. The new title of South Walton Adventure Run is being proposed for Run to STA.
The Destin Celebrity Golf Classic was recommended for up to $35,000 in funding and the Destin Charity Wine Auction was recommended for up to $30,000 in funding, contingent on the changing of those event names to South Walton Celebrity Golf Classic and South Walton Wine and Dine in Paradise, respectively. Name changes are also being proposed for others of the previously-mentioned signature events, including the change of the Sandestin Wine Festival to Savor South Walton and the change of ArtsQuest Fine Arts & Music Festival to South Walton ArtsQuest Fine Arts & Music Festival.
Experience events recommended for approval included: Baytowne Wharf Beer Festival & Vettes at the Village ($5,000); Rosemary Beach Uncorked ($5,000); Noche de los Muertos Costume Party ($2,500); Seeing Red Wine Festival ($10,000); Hilton Sandestin Beach Basketball Blowout at Freeport High School ($7,500); Sandestin Gumbo Festival ($5,000); 30A Wine Festival ($2,500); Sandestin Beach Bicycle Tour ($2,500); Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic ($10,000); Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach ($10,000); the Sandestin Triathlon ($2,500); and the Sandestin Music Festival ($2,500).
The event grant award recommendations are to go before the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) for final consideration in public session, and the recommendations will have to go through the budget scrub process, as well, Moliterno told the council members.
She explained that grant award recipients will be required to sign a memorandum of agreement regarding the use of funds received, and each event recipient will be required to submit a quarterly report.
The TDC has scheduled a 2:30 p.m. May 31 special meeting on sponsorship grant policies in the TDC conference room.
The BCC and the TDC are scheduled to hold a joint meeting at 5 p.m. on June 11 concerning the possibility of advertising for request for proposals or request for qualifications design/build services on a new TDC building. The meeting location is the South Walton Courthouse Annex.
These meetings are open to public participation.