Spread out festivals throughout the year

Published 7:24 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

By Staff
Washington and Beaufort County can use all the festivals, sports tournaments and other events that attract folks from near and far.
And when these visitors come to Washington, they spend money, especially over long festival weekends.
As a recent tourism study shows, our events, such as the Summer Festival, Smoke on the Water, East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and softball tournaments, generate revenue for local innkeepers, cafe owners and other merchants. They also generate tax revenue for the city and county.
That’s why they all want to see the likes of Music in the Streets, the Christmas Flotilla and other fun events come to Washington.
Gary Tomasulo, president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, is the latest to champion the suggestion that multiple festivals and events shouldn’t be conducted on the same weekend. Spread them out, Tomasulo recommends.
Instead of scheduling one event on a Friday evening, another the following day and another on Sunday, why not move them around so merchants, innkeepers and restaurant owners can reap benefits over multiple weekends? Makes sense, doesn’t it?
In years past, the final Music in the Streets for the season happened the Friday night before Smoke on the Water, held the fourth Saturday in October. This year, Music in the Streets will happen on the third Friday in October and Smoke on the Water the fourth Friday of that month.
By splitting the two events, Washington businesses get a financial boost two weekends in a row, not just one.
That’s why we applaud Joey Toler, executive director of the Beaufort County Arts Council, and his colleagues for scheduling the inaugural Beaufort County Traditional Music Festival for April 4. Toler and the BCAC could have guaranteed an excellent turnout for the festival by scheduling it the weekend of April 17-19. That’s when Music in the Streets and about 700 bicyclists with Cycle North Carolina’s spring ride will be in Washington.
But by scheduling the festival for another time, Toler and the BCAC are helping accomplish what Tomasulo and others suggest — having events and festivals on as many weekends as possible. They want a steady diet of quality festivals and events, not feast or famine.
That notion makes sense, and it should allow local business suffering from the recession to make a lot of cents, too.
Can’t go wrong with that.