Genoans appear to be moving forward with the fifth annual Cowboy Festival, choosing a date, but also expressing concern that the more than 200 volunteers could exhaust themselves for a cause that isn’t raising much money for the town.
While town businesspeople and county officials are enthusiastic about the continuation of the festival, the net income from it was $4,200, far short of what the town budgeted from the event, which will be May 2-4, 2014.
Founded in 2010 to provide an additional source of revenue to the town to Candy Dance, the festival has had difficulty raising the kind of money the older event does. Candy Dance raises roughly three-quarters of the town’s revenue, netting as much as $200,000 a year. But with the recession, Candy Dance revenues started to decline, prompting the town board to seek alternate means to make up that income.
Most of the money raised at Candy Dance comes from the sale of booths to the arts and crafts fair. This year the event, held Sept. 28-29, has already sold 261 crafts booths and 39 food booths and is on track to hit 300 booths, Town Manager Sheryl Gonzales said.
“Candy Dance has fewer moving parts than Cowboy,” Board Chairman Dave Whitgob said. “Cowboy is a heroic undertaking that puts a lot of demand on our volunteers. There has to be a reward for doing it.”
Whitgob said there is a clear benefit to the businesses, relating that the Genoa Bar did 25 percent more business than any other day in its history.
“We’ve been thanked by other businesses in the Valley for helping their registers ring,” he said. “But we did a lot of work and we ended up netting $4,200.”
Whitgob said some of the people who were committee directors won’t be able to continue this year.
“Unless we can find enough directors, I just don’t want us to bite off more than we can chew,” he said.
Board member Brian Williams said he didn’t think $4,200 was enough to justify the work involved in the festival.
“This little town can’t do it alone,” he said. “We need some others to step in. We should let anyone who wants to take the helm.”
Whitgob said there were some lessons learned at this year’s festival which could help the take for next year, including that the most popular event was also one of the least expensive.
Orchard House owner Randy Falcke pointed out that most of the Valley’s successful events required several years.
“I think this event could be very successful,” he said. “I suggest that you don’t throw in the towel yet.”
Resident Barbara Florman said the town is a good place for an event.
“I know the county knows that Genoa is an excellent venue for events,” she said. “To have the county involved is a good idea.”