Parks and Rec board discusses possible changes, fundraising
If Weddington holds a festival this year, it could look dramatically different than previous editions. The Weddington Parks and Recreation Board held a special meeting Monday, Jan. 30 to discuss planning for the future of Weddstock, among other items.
At its January meeting, the Weddington town council had instructed the Parks and Recreation Board to look at private ways of funding the festival, to avoid local tax dollars being spent. Members of the Kids First charity questioned if the town, which had acted as a sponsor, but not a managing partner of the festival, was allowed to solicit donations for a private event.
“It’s not fair to ask my mom and dad, who are retired adults that would never attend this, to pay their tax dollars to fund it,” newly elected Parks and Rec vice chair Janice Propst said. “I don’t know if the 5,000 people that attended, if they live in Weddington, if they live in Marvin (or) Waxhaw.”
More than 5,000 people from two counties came out to the 2011 Weddstock event, which raised money for six charity groups. According to information event organizers provided to the town, the 2011 festival cost $201,572.92 to hold, paid for with $168,290 in in-kind donations, with remaining expenses of $33,282.92. During the day, Weddstock officials collected $47,575.73.
That left $14,292.81. All total, Weddstock organizers donated $8,991.72 to Kids First of the Carolinas. Additionally, $2,907 went to Droplets, a local group that builds wells in Africa. $574 was given to the Weddington High cheerleaders, $500 to the local Girl Scout troop’s planned France trip, $820 to the local paintball club and $500 to Waddell Middle School for a planned student exchange trip.
Newly elected Parks and Recreation board chair Barbara Harrison said she felt the town’s further involvement could help both the event and the Kids First charity.
“My concern was, when you look at what the profit was, and then you say you had 5,000 people, well if you divide 5,000 into 14,000 , you didn’t have people spending a lot of money,” Harrison said. “We have to do something to offset any cost (and) we can do that through corporate sponsorship. There’s no saying we can’t call up Coca-Cola or Pepsi or Presbyterian (Hospital) or Lowes (but) it takes months to get to the right people. If we start this early, we have a better chance of getting the money.”
Propst, who admitted she hadn’t attended either year of the festival, said she also felt Weddstock should have a different focus.
“Maybe it’s not all about bands (next year), maybe it’s about families,” Propst said. “I need to see what the business plan entailed. What did the money go out to? I don’t know what kind of bands (played), if it was music that appealed to all ages,” Propst said.
Parks and Recreation board members Sharon Sanders and Stephanie Belcher, who both also serve on the Weddstock committee, pointed out that there were three stages for music; one for kids, one for teenagers and one for adults. They also pointed out that the event wasn’t set up to solely be a fundraiser for Kids First, but just an event for residents to take part in.
“I wasn’t doing it so Kids First could make a profit,” Belcher said. “I was doing it so the town of Weddington could have an event. The whole point was to do this so the town got a festival at the lowest possible cost.”
The initial reason Kids First ran the event was so Weddstock could get a license for alcohol to be sold, as towns can’t apply for such as license. Since the group partnered with local vendors for alcohol sales last year, that need went away, Belcher said.
Propst said she had a different model in mind, rather than the currently used festival idea.
“We used to have a fair here that didn’t cost anybody anything, all the community had booths and it was a family event that did not cost $200,000 to put on,” Propst said. “I will gladly go market this event where it doesn’t cost my mom and dad their tax dollars to fund it.”
Sanders said she and Belcher would go back to the Kids First board and ask for a vote, to see if they were ok with the town’s parks and recreation board soliciting donations in their name. Additionally, Sanders questioned the need for the Kids First group to work on the project, if the town decides to go with the proposal for a fair.
“I think her model is totally different,” Sanders said, speaking about the fair proposal by Propst. “It doesn’t involve the charity. It involves the town coming together.”