Hope Advertising and Tourism funds Watermelon Festival Concert, Klipsch Big Sound Downtown, expands artificial ice rink in Tuesday meeting

Christy Burns of the Hope-Hempstead Chamber of Commerce and Anna Powell of the UAHT Foundation ask the Hope Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission for sponsorships to support the publicity effort for the Watermelon Festival Concert.

The Hope Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission, which met yesterday in the Hope City Board of Directors’ Meeting Room, agreed to support the campaigns of the Hope-Hempstead Chamber of Commerce and the University of Arkansas-Hope Texarkana Foundation to publicize the upcoming Watermelon Festival Concert featuring The Marshall Tucker Band.

Christy Burns of the Chamber and Anna Powell of the UAHT Foundation both appeared at the podium to ask for $15,000 each for sponsorship of the concert, in which The Marshall Tucker Band is expected to take the stage Saturday August 12 at 8:30 p.m.

Mayor Don Still, a designated member from the Hope City Board, showed some concern about the event being profitable for UAHT. Powell assured him funds generated from the concert would go to scholarships for UAHT students, “not the operation of the college.”

Powell said in fact in leaner years, discussion at UAHT had come up regarding whether it was worth it to continue to organize the concert.  Making money was the determiner of whether or not the event continued to be feasible for UAHT.  “If we didn’t see some increases, it might not be worth the investment. We do have to make a profit,” Powell said.

Commissioner Steve Montgomery noted that 70 to 80 percent of the work of organizing the concert was done by UAHT.  Powell pointed out that the concert also “generates a lot of foot traffic” in the late afternoon on the Watermelon Festival’s last day. Burns said the Chamber does help Powell gather other sponsors, “But I have other parts [of the Watermelon Festival] to do.”

Burns said without the Tourism Commission’s help, “there’s no way we could pay $20,000 for advertising alone.”

Mayor Still said he was satisfied with the information provided. This prompted Commissioner Juan Rivera to move to provide UAHT Foundation and Hope-Hempstead County of Chamber of Commerce with $15,000 for sponsorships of the Watermelon Festival Concert. Milko Smith seconded. The vote for the total $30,000 expenditure was unanimous.

To double the size of the artificial skating rink used for the first time this past holiday season in The Hub, the commissioners approved the purchase of more rink for $21,000. The price had gone up since the commission was given a quote in late February from Fairytales on Ice Director Alex Wilfand Chair of the Commission Sharon Caldwell reported. “So we need to vote,” she said.

Mayor Still made the motion to approve the buying of the rink with Commissioner Charlton Luker seconding.  The motion was approved unanimously.

The Commission next heard from Beckie Moore, Executive Director of the Klipsch Heritage Museum Association. She announced the performers for the organization’s Big Sounds Downtown concerts on the first Thursdays of June through August.  For June 1st, Jacob Flores will perform. On July 6th, the Dusty Rose Band will come to town. On August 3rd, Covie and his supporting performers will arrive.  Each act starts up at 7:00 p.m. and is expected to finish by 9:00 p.m.

Moore asked the commissioners for $500 to help with costs, which the commission unanimously approved.

Commissioner Montgomery asked if there had been consideration of expanding Big Sounds Downtown to more than three dates a summer. Moore replied that the difficulties of hauling and setting up the speakers and equipment posed an obstacle to expanding the concerts right now.

Commission Chair Caldwell reported on the success of Train/Trade Day this past Saturday, as 17 barbecue rib cookers participated, all saying they would return next year and one complimenting the town’s generosity.

She added that 30 vendors had joined up at The Hub and 26 cars had competed at the car show while 26 teams competed at the Jack Williams tournament. Hope Parks Superintendent Summer Powell said of the financial success of the event that her department had made profits according to the latest accounting.