Maggie Valley discusses summer success
Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen discussed the success of the town’s Fourth of July celebration during an agenda-setting meeting and also planned a work session to work out some kinks in the new festival grounds policies.
Board members said they received a lot of positive feedback on the “throwback” backyard fireworks event at the festival grounds on July 4. While Maggie’s “Red, White and Boom” celebration has been a major production in the past with bouncy houses, food and beer vendors and other entertainment, the town chose to scale it back this year.
This year, the town only spent $10,000 on the event, which was the cost of the 30-minute fireworks display.
“Some people think we shouldn’t spend any money on fireworks, but look at the impact it had on our businesses,” said Alderman Mike Eveland.
Families were invited to bring chairs, blankets, picnics and backyard games to enjoy at the festival grounds until the fireworks began at 10 p.m.
Town Manager Nathan Clark said the point of not having outside vendors was to encourage more people to venture out into town to shop, eat and drink. From the feedback the board received, it works. It created more foot traffic in town, especially near the festival grounds. Since no alcohol was allowed on the grounds, the local restaurants got high volumes of customers.
Police Chief Scott Sutton was at the festival grounds gate most of the night and said he didn’t get any complaints about not being able to bring in alcohol.
Mayor Ron DeSimone said he thought the town should have something going on at the festival grounds before the fireworks. For example, he said Waynesville had several street musicians on Main Street on July 4, which generated a lot of traffic.
Festival grounds fees
The board also discussed a request from the Ole Smoky Antique Tractor & Engine Association to be on the next meeting agenda. The tractor club has held its Spring Farm Fest event at the festival grounds for about 10 years. While the club would like to keep the same date and location for next year’s event, it isn’t sure it can afford the new fee structure at the festival grounds that will go into effect for next year.
“The tractor club wrapped up its event in June and want to return to Maggie next year,” Clark said. “They’re worried about the new fee schedule — they have never paid deposit because we gave them the nonprofit rate.”
However, the tractor club is not a certified nonprofit organization, but there is never an admission to the farm fest. The event was stretched out to three days this year but Clark said the club wanted to go back to a two-day event next year. Since the event is free, finding funds to pay the deposit and rental fee next year will be a hardship on the club.
Alderman Saralyn Price said the tractor show has been in Maggie Valley for many ears and has grown over time.
“It’s part of our heritage and it gives people here something to do for free,” she said. “We should continue it.”
DeSimone said he was concerned about starting to make exceptions to the new rules put in place.
Mike Mehaffey, public works director, said the tractor club did a lot to give back to the community even though it didn’t pay for the grounds, including donating gravel, tables and tents to the festival grounds. The club also does tractor rides during other events at the festival grounds, including the recent PlottFest.
Eveland said it was a broader issue than just the tractor show. He said the town needed to have some kind of policy in place to deal with these kinds of situations. For example, he said the city of Asheville only chooses a few events to sponsor each year.
DeSimone agreed there needed to be a cap on the number of events the town sponsors each year.
“We need to make some policy to say how we’re going to do that and how long we will sponsor an event,” he said.
Alderman Janet Banks said the point of changing the fees and policies at the festival grounds was to only have successful events in there during the busiest season.
“We want groups that can afford to pay the fees so we can just recoup our costs,” she said.
The board decided not to put the issue on the agenda until the board can discuss it at 9 a.m. July 31 workshop. In the meantime, the board wants to encourage the tractor club to seek sponsorships to pay the fees.
The board will hold its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. July 14 at town hall.