That’s one of the questions city elected officials have been asking ever since two events coordinators resigned earlier this year from the Glen Rose/Somervell County Chamber of Commerce.
The second question is, Where should that person set up an office and who should he or she report to? Not to mention how to avoid the mistakes of the past.
The Glen Rose City Council and Glen Rose Economic Development Corp. have been pondering the answers to those questions. As a tourist town, Glen Rose needs to stage events. But it also needs more. It needs to connect those events to downtown and to attractions, hotels, museums and restaurants. That’s a rather tall order.
Last spring’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival was a financial and popular success. The Fourth of July parade and fireworks were a big hit, but the busy schedule of other festivities didn’t draw the crowds.
Weather, of course, makes a huge difference and is unpredictable. Warm spring days bring out people, while the sweltering heat of this record-breaking summer kept people away during the middle of the day during the Fourth of July festivities.
The best planning in the world can’t prepare for a gullywasher or an ice storm (which froze out the February Valentine’s Day market) or heat wave.
That said, how can Glen Rose make its events the best they can be? And what should those events be?
The chamber tried to hold a monthly First Saturday Market Days that sounded good and looked good on paper. Conflicts between vendors who were competitors, between retailers on the square who didn’t want vendors setting up in front of their stores and blocking their shops and drama within the chamber office itself conspired to unravel the event and extremes of weather didn’t help.
Last October’s Moonshine Festival also got off to a good start.
That was then. This is now. How do we go forward?
The chamber ended up giving back $9,000 to the GREDC for the unexpended 4B sales tax monies that would have gone to the events coordinator had she stayed. Right now it looks like the events coordinator will be based out of the Glen Rose Convention & Visitors Bureau, which seems like a natural fit. The CVB has office space, for one thing. And it could use the extra help.
CVB Executive Director Billy Huckaby has his hands full helping attract big shows to the Somervell County Expo Center, getting publicity from major publications such as Texas Monthly and Texas Highway and putting “heads in beds,” or tourists who spend the night at area hotels, inns, cabins and bed-and-breakfasts, bringing in hotel-motel tax revenue.
Huckaby said he was asked to put together the events coordinator position under the CVB.
“The chamber is not doing any more events,” he told the city council last week. “They didn’t fill part of their mandate.”
He envisions the position ideally as an events planner and Main Street manager. Glen Rose had a Main Street manager some years ago.
“The position could be self-sustaining and paid for through proceeds from the events,” Huckaby said.
“Our hope is that under the CVB and this group, this position could be a lot more stable,” Huckaby added.
As to whether Glen Rose needs an events planner, Huckaby said, “Without an events coordinator, there probably will not be a lot of events in Glen Rose. There was such a bad taste in people’s mouths after July 4th.”
City Councilman Bob Stricklin agreed. But how to pay for an events coordinator? Would you go back to the 4B to fund it, he wondered.
Huckaby said some grant money may be available.
“It’s a position we definitely need to look at,” he added. “I do think long-term this position could help downtown. I see them working with anybody.”
“That was our vision from the beginning,” noted City Councilwoman and GREDC board member Sandra Ramsay.
“There’s potential there,” Huckaby responded. “There will be a lot more consistency.”
He added that in hindsight, the job should not have been placed within the chamber.
“I don’t think the first time around that was the best place to put it,” he said.
But the bluegrass festival coming up next month at Oakdale Park is sold out. A vintage Volkswagon show is scheduled for Oct. 1. Next year another rodeo event, the Pro Youth Rodeo Finals, is moving from Stephenville to Glen Rose.
The need for an events coordinator remains. People like coming to Glen Rose. And if we can build a position without the infighting, office politics and confusion of roles the next time around and that person can build a successful roster of events, even more will come.