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Tourism awards $10,000 to Art & Balloon Festival and Up in Smoke BBQ competition

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[May 31, 2014]  LINCOLN - Tuesday evening the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County held their May meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Lincoln.

Among the many items on the agenda was a request from the Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival for $5,000 to be used in promoting this year’s event.

The request was made by the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce. Chamber director Andi Hake, who is also a member of the Tourism board, and abstained from voting on the request.

She did explain the request and tell the board how the money would be used.

In the past the bureau has supported the festival through a balloon sponsorship. That sponsorship cost the bureau $2,500.

Hake said in recognizing the new vision and mission of the Tourism Bureau, this year the chamber was asking for dollars to promote the festival in areas outside the 50 mile radius of Lincoln.

She said each year the chamber does the advertising for the festival throughout the region, but concentrates a portion of that advertising in a specific area. She said this year the concentrated focus would be on Bloomington and Peoria.

She said the $5,000 would be used to purchase advertising, including 30 second and 60 second television commercials. She said the commercials would be designed to draw attention to all of the events going on during the weekend.

She also said the request included the use of both of the tourism billboards on Interstate 55.

During discussion, the board wanted more definition on the use of the billboards. The bureau recently gave the billboard space to the Lincoln College Museum, but the museum paid the cost of the advertising that was placed on them. Hake said it would be the same situation.

The group also talked about the size of the request, noting it was twice what it had been in previous years.

During that discussion, Andy Meister remembered the Logan County Fair had requested that same amount, and had been given half. But, Keith Snyder noted the balloon festival is a huge draw in Logan County. Jean Brunner-Jachino supported that saying, for the motel industry in Lincoln, it is by far the biggest weekend they have.

The group also discussed the fact that the chamber covers all the advertising for all the events. This includes the balloon launches and glows, the Art in the Park, the Oasis Flea Market, the Art of Wine, the 1800’s Craft Show at Postville Courthouse, and the barbeque competitions.

Darlene Begolka noted, “When you break that all down, it really isn’t much money.”

When the motion to approve came to a vote, six voted yes, with Hake abstaining.

The chamber had also submitted requests for support for the chamber golf outing and an Art Fair Patron Pledge. Both requests failed for a lack of motion.

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Later in the evening, Snyder brought up a request for $5,000 specifically for the Up in Smoke Barbecue competitions.

He said in meeting with Chris Graue, who annually heads up the barbecue competition committee, they had spoken about an opportunity to bring a celebrity host to the event.

The committee has heard from Mark D’Carlo that he is willing to come to Lincoln and host that event as well as the Art of Wine. He is also going to be doing some comedic entertainment during the Art of Wine.

D’Carlo is currently the host of Windy City Live, a morning television show in the Chicago area. In addition, he has been a host on the Travel Channel's, Taste of America. Snyder said D’Carlo will promote the barbecue on his morning show.

In addition, D’Carlo hosts an online show called, “Fork on the Road,” and has written a book by the same title. He has told the committee he will film an episode of that show in Lincoln during the event.

D’Carlo is also willing to host his comedy cooking show competition in Lincoln. Snyder said the competition includes a five day trip to the Caribbean for the winner.

And finally, D'Carlo would do interviews with local chefs and “interesting” sponsors.

Snyder said he thought this would be beneficial, and take the barbecue event to a new level. He said he would also suggest that if it proves to be beneficial, it might be something the bureau would consider sponsoring in the following year as well.

Andy Hake said she thought it was a great idea. She said Graue had approached the chamber two years ago to do this. “We racked our brains to try and figure out how to make it happen,” but in the end Hake said the chamber couldn’t do it. She said she thought this was an exceptional promotion opportunity.

Tom O’Donohue also noted that D’Carlo has his own following, so it is going to be in his best interest to promote the event as its host.

Snyder said he liked the idea of adding a personality to the event saying it would bring a new draw to the community.

When the motion was made it passed with a vote of six “yeses” and 1 abstain. Because the chamber will be the pass-through for this funding, Hake once again abstained from voting.


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