The New Years Ball drop in downtown Searcy is expected to be bigger and better, but perhaps not as much as hoped after Searcy’s advertising and tourism promotion slashed a $ 30,000 claim from the mayor at $ 24,000 Tuesday.
The commission decided at its monthly meeting at the Carmichael Community Center that it would provide 80 percent of the amount requested after a failed motion to fund 100 percent of the request.
Mayor Kyle Osborne said he and Searcy Beats and Eats committee coordinator Mat Faulkner had a long conversation last week when they discussed the request and some other programs for the rest of the year.
“This year we’re trying to make Beats and Eats and the town of Searcy and our New Years Extravaganza the biggest and best we’ve ever had,” Osborne said.
The event is hosted by the Beats and Eats committee in coordination with the city, Osborne said. Faulkner said, “This is a Town of Searcy event. The Beats and Eats committee organized this, not myself. “
“Basically we are a group of volunteers who are helping to facilitate the event on behalf of the Town of Searcy,” Faulkner said. “There are two big events each year that we serve in this capacity; that would have been the 4th of July that we just had, then New Years Eve because those events are much bigger than a normal Beats and Eats event, ”which are usually street gatherings in the city center.
A&P Commissioner Tommy Centola asked how the New Years Eve event has been funded in the past. Osborne said it was the Beats and Eats funding he was able to acquire over the years.
Faulkner said the New Years Eve event has taken place a few times, but not last year due to COVID-19, but these events were on a much smaller scale than expected. He said the cost is generally around $ 20,000.
Asking for $ 30,000 in A&P tax revenue, he said, “Some of the differences are that we would have a covered stage and we’re going to be moving to Spring Street, so there is more parking and it’s easier to park. Claireday [Electric] to drop the ball.
“We have cold pyros coming out of the stage, a laser show,” he said. “There is going to be an indoor and outdoor component, the rental of the Robbins Sanford [Grand Hall] de Claireday in the event of a weather problem. There are a few more features and attractions that we’ve never had before, just trying to improve them.
“I will say that even the Town of Benton is trying to make their own ball drop right now and they’re calling us to ask how to do it, so it’s a good thing to be a favorite.”
When asked how many attended these New Year’s events, Faulkner said it was difficult to know.
“It’s a fluid event and basically some people will come early and then they will go to a family function or something, so it’s really hard to say,” he said. “We know that at the end, there at midnight, the parking lot where it took place in the past is full but it’s really hard to say. We estimate around 5,000 people, but depending on the weather, it’s really hard to say. It could rain and freeze, you never know.
Faulnker said most of the crowd is believed to be local.
He also said that when this event kicked off in 2018 it included food trucks, but due to the hour of the night they didn’t go well. He said there would be snacks and refreshments this year, but it wouldn’t be a food truck affair.
Commissioner Jim House wanted to know if A&P money would replace contributions received from elsewhere. “Is it a unique thing or are we going to be tested to do it every year?” ” He asked.
Osborne said if private donors step up and continue to make contributions, the amount that would be requested would be cut.
House said: “I just have some hesitation in taking on a position like this that there is no evidence that it is going to attract people here from out of town or get us some recognition that the others admire. I know it’s fun, but maybe I’m too old for it.
Centola said he understood what House was saying: “We brought in a lot of people from out of town for July 4th.” House said the July 4 event, held for the first time this year, worked and proved successful. “Now New Years Eve is another time,” he said.
Osborne said the last New Years Eve he attended downtown was also packed.
“If the attractions are there, people come to these things,” Osborne said. “They are looking for something to do. The problem is trying to program all of this without knowing the amount of private funds coming in. It’s that time of year. We have to plan and prepare for these things and if we don’t know if the money is there, we don’t know what we can do and what we can’t.
House told Osborne: “I don’t think we ever want to start covering things 100% when it’s been proven that donors will do their part. I mean, we’re improving it from what I hear and it’s going to cost more from what I hear. It just seems like we need an 80-20 anyway so we know there are still other donors still giving on this and not slipping into the only donor doing these things. .
Osborne told House “with the economic climate we’re in right now, we just don’t know.” House said he was amazed at the quality of attendance at the July 4th event at the Searcy Events Center “and we hope it will be almost as big as July 4th”.
House said: “We are in a demonstration phase to see what the results will be.”
Commission President Chris Howell said on New Years Eve on a Friday: ‘the restaurants will be open’, but what he is’ fighting ‘is’ is there will have enough people from out of town to come and generate economic activity in our local restaurants. “
Howell said at the July 4th event: “The food trucks were so crowded we went to a local restaurant and you can tell people were there specifically for this event so it accomplished exactly what we were doing. are here. so I’m having a little trouble now, but I’m more inclined to be like “Hey, maybe not 100%, but let’s see what we can do with this event.”
“We kind of proved that at the July 4th event; maybe it’s time to try it on this event as well and if that doesn’t turn out we can always back down, ”he said.
Commissioner Rees Jones, who brought the motion to fund the request 100%, said he somehow shared Howell’s point of view. “I think there is going to be less competition, for lack of a better word, with other cities in a New Years event. [Eve].
Faulkner said that since Beats and Eats holds events pretty much all year round, “so appealing to private donors year round is a difficult thing to do, especially on a volunteer basis.” He said the volunteers were happy to work hard for these bigger events, to put all the things together and make it easier, but “it is difficult to raise funds throughout the year.”
He said that however big or small the city and the A&P Commission wanted them to work with, they would be happy to do so.
Commissioner Mike Chalenburg said he was also struggling to fund the full amount.
Osborne said there is no guarantee of what can be produced with less than $ 30,000 and no guarantee of what could be solicited through private donations.
“We might be lucky and be able to raise $ 10,000, maybe $ 15,000, but we would be lucky to do it,” the mayor said. “I hate to skimp on a program like this. We’ve put everything in place for July 4th and this is one of two events the city is really getting involved with with Beats and Eats and we would all like it to be successful.
“Weather permitting, with what we’ve got in the plan here, this would be the biggest show we’ve had downtown for a New Years Gathering that I can remember and would just ask you to stick to it.” account. If we’re given half the money, we’ll probably get half the show. “
After Jones’ motion failed, House brought forward the motion which was passed for 80% funding.