The Somervell County Commissioners had a brief special meeting Monday morning to approve money used to promote tourism — funds that will eventually be reimbursed by the state.
By a 4-0 vote, with County Judge Danny Chambers out on vacation, the commissioners voted to approve $30,698 to the producer of Destry’s Free For All, a major barrel racing event held last weekend at the Somervell County Expo Center.
County Auditor Brian Watts added the total figure approved was $35,610, which includes $4,912 that goes to the state of Texas.
Watts noted that the state has a program to reimburse certain tourism projects that bring people into Texas from other states.
“They look a a number of factors, like the projected economic impact to the area and the state,” Watts said. “You have to pre-pay the grant. We just approve the monies to host the event, with the understanding that it will be reimbursed.”
Somervell County Expo Center manager Frank Abbott said that the event was “a huge, huge race,” that featured approximately 1,600 participants over the three-day period ending Sunday.
The commissioners found out about the grant reimbursement program last year.
“It’s a positive anytime we get help on events,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Kenneth Wood said. “You wouldn’t get the large events coming in if you didn’t have that help.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner John Curtis said the county is competing with other venues for such equestrian competitions and other events, and this helps in that effort.
“Once we discovered those grants were out there, then we could start competing with those other venues as well,” Curtis said.