Alteration in works for Cowboy Festival model |

Alteration in works for Cowboy Festival model

Cowboy poet Ken Gardner recites a poem May 2 at the Genoa Cowboy Festival.
Caryn Haller |

Genoans hope that a new business model will make their annual Cowboy Festival a moneymaker.

Town Manager Phil Ritger reported the town made $5,700 from the fifth annual event, a more than $10,000 increase over last year.

He warned Genoa Town Board members that the numbers were preliminary, but he said that they were fairly accurate.

The festival cost $123,000 to put on and took in roughly $129,000. Ritger said that last year the festival cost $168,000 to put on and brought in $163,000.

The town has hosted the spring festival for five years, with the first one being by far the most profitable.

“The good news is that the event is starting to enjoy more notoriety,” Town Board Chairman Dave Whitgob said. “The attendees and performers are satisfied, and there are benefits for the community at large. And we get help in other areas because of that.”

Whitgob acknowledged that the business model for the festival is flawed and proposed introducing a new plan that will raise $50,000 a year.

Town Board members agreed with the plan to develop a new business model for the event.

“If I ran a business and I only had $5,700 after five years, I’d quit and find a job.”

Whitgob said the goal is to obtain corporate sponsorships that might defray the costs and even suggested the possibility of paying a sponsorship chairperson.

Genoa Lakes resident Dan Aynesworth, who has volunteered for the cowboy festival since it began in 2012, told board members the return on this sort of event typically isn’t large.

“Elko (Cowboy Poetry) is the granddaddy of them all and they raise $850,000 by spending $800,000,” he said. “There’s not a lot of financial return from this sort of festival and a tremendous workload.”

He suggested that the festival needs to be a Valley event, and requires a Valley partner.

“We’ve got to expand it, and we’ve got to have a partner,” he said.