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Sparks’ special events receive their due
by Joshua H. Silavent
Feb 10, 2011 | 3131 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune File/Debra Reid - One vessel collapses and sinks during the milk carton boats races at the Sparks Marina on July 4, 2009. The event will not receive sponsorship money this year from the city of Sparks.
Tribune File/Debra Reid - One vessel collapses and sinks during the milk carton boats races at the Sparks Marina on July 4, 2009. The event will not receive sponsorship money this year from the city of Sparks.
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SPARKS — More than $117,000 was allocated to fund this year’s crop of special events on Monday as the Tourism and Marketing Committee (TourMark) continues its efforts to brand the city as a national leader in hosting festivals, parades and road rallies.

“We’re serious about marketing our community through events,” TourMark committee member Stephen Ascuaga said.

In addition to funding usual suspects like the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off and Star Spangled Sparks, first-time earmarks have been made for two new events and one coming back for its second year.

Funding for a sandcastle building competition sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department, a bicycling race sponsored in part by the University of Nevada, Reno cycling team and the fall edition of the Street Vibrations motorcycle rally has been added for 2011.

Meanwhile, TourMark officials voted to pull sponsorship funding from the Northern Nevada Chamber of Commerce’s Independence Day festival at the Sparks Marina, which includes the milk carton boat regatta and other daytime events, saving about $10,000. Officials said sponsoring the event no longer fit the criteria for the committee’s funding allocations because the payoff, in terms of tourist traffic generated, was difficult to measure.

TourMark also will not be subsidizing the Sparks Hometowne Farmers’ Market and Hot August Nights. Producers of these events have not asked for funding this year.

Funding for special events comes out of a current TourMark balance of about $324,000. Allocations for the Brand Leadership Team and other projects, such as payments for the city’s website redesign and plans to install wayfinding signs to direct tourist traffic in the city, will be made at future meetings, officials said.

TourMark officials also said they would fund a second tour of the city for special events producers, likely to be held during either the Rib Cook-Off or Hot August Nights in order to best showcase how the city can accommodate large events.

In an effort to recruit new special events to the city, an inaugural tour for producers was held last fall. TourMark officials said the tour was a success and resulted in at least one new addition to the special events calendar — the aforementioned bicycling race, proposed for Aug. 19-21 at Golden Eagle Regional Park and other areas around the city.

The first tour came in under budget at about $2,000, but TourMark officials said expanding the tour and generating greater interest would require a bigger budget next time around, perhaps as much as $10,000.

“How do we raise the bar on the next one?” asked Councilman Ron Smith, who also is a TourMark committee member.

Recruiting producers from across the country and targeting high-profile types of events were necessary, officials suggested.

“I think we do need to do the outreach,” Smith said.

In a time of budget constraints, however, TourMark officials acknowledged that diligence was needed to ensure that every dollar allocated is done with an eye toward maximum benefit.

“I don’t want to make it look like we’re trying to buy events to come here,” said committee chairman and City Councilman Ron Schmitt.
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