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The Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission recently heard proposals for a homegrown obstacle race, performances by Elvis-impersonator Eddie Miles and comedians, and a concert by internationally acclaimed trumpeters.
Scott Ballard of XB Arena in Loretto came to the commission’s May 13 meeting seeking assistance in promoting the Hills and Horns Adventure Race, a 5K obstacle race similar to the Warrior Dash that came to Lebanon in 2012.
Ballard said his son, Kelly, has run in a few of these types of races and he is helping plan the race.
“I don’t want any money … just promotion,” he told the commission.
And Ballard has already been promoting his race.
He said that 3 Way Racing out of Lexington is helping with the race and promoting it through a website (http://goo.gl/qHULt). He’s also used social media (Facebook) and set up booths at other races. He even had information cards printed and inserted in the packets given to racers in the recent Color In Motion 5K held in Lebanon.
The entry fee for the Hills and Horns race is $45, and he added that 3 Way Racing officials have told him that 200-400 people would be a good turnout for a first time event.
Commissioner Dave Winebrenner said he’s run in races hosted by 3 Way Racing.
“Those are good folks,” he said.
However, Winebrenner also wondered if Ballard might be underestimating how many people would sign up for the race, noting that more than 6,000 participated in last year’s Warrior Dash.
Ballard said he has parking for 300 vehicles near the bull-riding arena on his property, and he noted there are three other entrances to his property that could be used for additional parking.
The Hills and Horns race will include five water crossings, climbing obstacles, a water slide, and a few mystery obstacles that will incorporate his bulls, which Ballard insists will be kept away from the runners.
“It will be safe, but a mystery,” he said.
Concessions and music will also be available on site the day of the race.
The commission did encourage him to see if there might be a way for him to bring people into Lebanon the night before the race, but they were supportive of his plan. Ballard said he was open to any suggestions they might have.
When the commission revisited the request later in the meeting, they voted unanimously in support of helping with promotion.
“For the people that loved Warrior Dash, they will love this,” Commissioner Carlotta Brussell said.
Robin Humphress of Kentucky Classic Theatre returned to the commission with a new proposal.
She has been in contact with Eddie Miles, a Marion County native and nationally-known Elvis impersonator, about performing at Angelic Hall July 12-13, Aug. 9-10 and Sept. 13-14.
Humphress said Miles is looking to get off the road and to find a theater to make his home. The proposed three-concert series this summer is a trial run to see if Angelic Hall will work for him.
“If we can fill this up for three weekends in the summer, then we can get him here on a regular basis,” Humphress said.
She added that Miles is used to making $7,500 per concert, and Angelic Hall would need to be at least two-thirds full to cover that.
She asked the tourist commission to promote the concert series in its regular promotional materials, but she also recommended advertising the concerts in Louisville Magazine, Kentucky Living and The Record (the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Louisville).
She added that Miles is willing to help with promotion and putting together packages for visitors that could include tours of local distilleries.
“This is a great idea,” Winebrenner told Humphress.
As a separate idea, Humphress also proposed a concert for the Saturday night of Ham Days featuring comedians Joey I.L.O. and C.J. Harlow
“These guys are both clean comedians,” Humphress said, which means they would be putting on a family-friendly show.
She added that they may want to purchase some banners to hang outside of Centre Square to promote Miles’ performances and the comedy show.
Winebrenner said he liked this idea, too, but he asked if they might be able to look at another weekend. He said local hotel space will already be full during Ham Days, and it would be good to fill those rooms on another weekend.
The commission approved promotional assistance for the concerts and the comedy show (preferably on a weekend other than Ham Days), but they left the decisions about where and how to promote these events to the office staff.
Don Johnson, founder of Kentucky Baroque Trumpets, returned to the tourist commission for the second month in a row at their May 13 meeting.
In April, Johnson was seeking $4,500 from the commission to put on a concert featuring internationally renowned trumpeters Friedemann Immer of Germany and John Foster of Australia. Johnson’s own group, Kentucky Baroque Trumpets (many of whose members performing in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” as President Lincoln’s Own band), would also perform at the concert.
Last week, Johnson made another pitch for his planned concert, but this time he was seeking $8,000 from the tourist commission.
He said he tried to address concerns raised previously by the commission about having a business plan and having go-to people to assist him. Johnson pointed out that members of the Marion County Historical Society have offered to help, and Humphress has been a consultant.
He also added something to make this a two-day event. On June 7, they will offer a master class for students and a rehearsal. Johnson’s group includes music professors from the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, Eastern Kentucky University and Campbellsville University, which would be good exposure to high school musicians thinking about where they want to attend college.
Johnson said musicians who attend the rehearsal June 7 at Centre Square would be allowed to perform the selected piece of music at the concert June 8.
Johnson’s proposal listed St. Augustine Church as the site for the concert, but he told the commission that the site had not yet been determined. He told the commissioners that he was also considering the Opera House in Springfield as the venue.
Johnson added that he’s received messages from people all over the United States and from as far away as Brazil, Europe and Egypt who have expressed interest in attending the concert.
He also noted that his group has received more attention since appearing in “Lincoln.” They recently performed at a special dedication in Springfield, and they have been approached about possibly being the artists-in-residence at St. Catherine College. Articles about the Kentucky Baroque Trumpets have appeared in “Historic Brass Society” and “The Brass Herald” (which is printed in London, England), and they will be profiled in an upcoming edition of the “International Trumpet Guild Journal.”
Johnson added that he has received a $2,500 anonymous contribution to help with the concert expenses, and he explained that he received support from the Kentucky Arts Council for his idea.
The arts council email notes that communities that invest in the arts are creating a draw for tourists, noting that non-local audiences tend to spend twice as much as local attendees ($40.19 vs. $19.53) above and beyond the cost of attending an event.
“I hope you are able to proceed with your concert, which is a step in building a stronger arts presence that can reap great benefits for you community in the long run,” wrote Tamara Coffey of the Kentucky Arts Council.
Johnson added that part of the reason he was seeking more money than he did in April was because of a recommendation from the arts council that professionals deserve to be paid for what they do.
“I shouldn't ask people with their doctorates to come here for almost nothing,” he said.
The commissioners still had some concerns. Commissioner Tom Lund asked if they had talked about ticket prices previously.
Johnson has proposed charging $10 per ticket, which he agreed was too cheap.
“That’s the point,” Lund replied. “... When you look at the quality of the people that are coming, you can charge $35.”
Johnson said he was hoping to set the price at a point where families could afford to bring their children.
Brussell and Winebrenner also agreed that $10 was too low. Winebrenner pointed out that if he sold 300 tickets at $50 apiece, that would give him $15,000 which would be enough to cover the projected costs ($13,500) and allow Johnson to turn a small profit.
Johnson said that he liked the idea of a profit, adding that he would invest any profits back into Kentucky Baroque Trumpets. He already has plans for the group to record a CD in one of the nation’s finest recording studios in New York.
Nevertheless, Johnson did not feel he could change the ticket prices at this point since he has already sold around $400 in tickets.
Brussell asked why he had asked for $4,500 in April but increased his request to $8,000 last week.
Johnson said he increased his request on the advice of the Kentucky Arts Council. He said the musicians could play a wedding for $200, but they deserved to be paid in a way the acknowledges their professional status.
“We need to respect them monetarily, and that's why,” Johnson said.
The commission also expressed concerns about the concert being held on the same weekend as Danville’s Brass Festival. Johnson acknowledged that he did not know if that would help or hurt his own concert’s attendance.
He ended his remarks to the commission by presenting a petition with five pages of signatures. Johnson said local taxpayers are saying they want this concert to happen.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said.
Jerry Evans spoke in support of Johnson’s concert, saying the $10 ticket price could expose a wider audience to the type of music Johnson performs.
“I would encourage you to do what you can to make this happen,” Evans said.
When the commission revisited the request later in the meeting, they agreed that the $10 ticket price was too low for the quality of the musicians who would be performing.
Brussell said she did not see how the commission could justify putting up $8,000.
Carla Wagner, the commission’s administrative assistant, was also concerned about how much they could do to promote the event, given how little time they have before the June 8 concert date.
“We need six months to promote something like this,” she said.
However, Wagner did suggest they may have an opportunity to plan something in conjunction with the release of the CD Johnson mentioned.
Lund asked if there was anything the commission could do, adding that he didn’t want Johnson to have a bad taste in his mouth. At the same time, Lund suggested no more than $2,000.
Brussell noted that $2,000 along with the $2,500 anonymous donation would get Johnson back to the $4,500 he originally requested in April.
In the end the commission voted in favor of providing $2,000 as long as the concert takes place.
In other business:
- Wagner reported that volunteers stuffed 2,500 packets for the Color in Motion 5K on May 9 at the Marion County Heritage Center. The packet pick-up was Friday evening at the heritage center, and around 2,200 runners and walkers took part in the race.
After the race, Wagner said around 300 leftover packets were taken to their next race in Indianapolis.
Brussell asked if runners were shuttled to the race site. Wagner said they were not. Participants parked at the Fairgrounds (across the street from the start/finish area), and according to Wagner, Color in Motion agreed to let the fair board keep the proceeds from parking. She added that the city provided extra personnel and police during the race and that Amber Irvin provided a $500 gift certificate to use toward the cost of the D.J.
Wagner said the race organizers were happy with the race, although they were short on volunteers. They have already discussed possible dates to bring the race back next year, and they are hopeful they will have more volunteers to help with the 2014 race.
- The Bourbon Chase will return to Marion County Friday, Oct. 18. The commission agreed to allow Wagner to work as the area manager for the portion of the race from Maker’s Mark to Perryville. She will be paid $500 plus a mileage fee by the Bourbon Chase officials.
- Wagner said the office assistant they have through Kentucky Works has been doing a good job.
- In old business, the commission agreed to pay Wagner $15 per hour during the time she is serving as the interim tourism director. The commission also agreed to make this retroactive.
Former tourism director Nicky Reynolds’ last official day was April 12.
- The commissioners received a draft of the proposed 2013-14 budget, but they postponed approving the budget so they could take some time to review it.
In the proposed budget, the commission’s resources were projected to decline from nearly $608,000 to more than $593,000. The commission is anticipating increased revenue from the restaurant and hotel taxes.
The reason for the decline is the commission received its final reimbursement for the Gorley Trail renovation during the current fiscal year.
- According to the most recent report, eight businesses were at least two months behind on turning in their tourism taxes. Hometown BBQ was listed as eight months behind. Game Tyme and Ragetti’s were listed as three months behind. JDND Food Mart, Rita Spalding Catering, both Subway restaurants and Swan’s Landing Catering were listed as two months behind.