Roadshows, Inc. was granted $15,000 for its Street Vibrations Spring Rally, happening June 7-9 in the back parking lot of John Ascuaga’s Nugget. TourMark handed out the same funds for the rally last year, though the event promoter asked for $30,000 per rally, and Roadshows representative Rebecca Lebeau told the three-man board that things were already looking positive.
“Our numbers, around this time last year, were coming pretty slow especially for participants but we are way up this year,” Lebeau said. “We have had to retrain our participants because we changed the way our event was ran, and last year we did that. We like the way the event was ran last year and people are excited and coming back in full force this year.”
Lebeau said the Spring Rally can draw in as many as 5,000 people to downtown Sparks which, in the words of TourMark member Stephen Ascuaga, has been “owned by the City of Sparks.” The Fall Rally, however, can see anywhere from 45 to 50,000 people flooding in the Reno-Sparks area, according to Lebeau.
Another downtown favorite, the Sparks Farmer’s Market, received $15,000 for its Thursday operations, beginning June 6 and running through August 22. TourMark supported the farmer’s market with similar funds last year and the event was restructured, placing it on Victorian Plaza rather than down Victorian Avenue. The ‘new’ venue allowed for live entertainment, several classic and new vendors and a family friendly environment.
Sparks Parks and Recreation Department received $10,000 from TourMark on Tuesday to help secure new events coming to the city in the near future. Francine Burge, Special Events Coordinator, said events changing venues or coming to Sparks for the first time will make an easier transition by accessing the funds.
“The $10,000 is to supplement new events coming to the city, who have missed this funding cycle and they cannot wait another year to ask for their first year funding,” Burge said. “It will help some of those events that are struggling with additional costs from moving or it being their first year. Any money that is not used by the Parks and Rec will be returned to the TourMark.”
TourMark Chairman Ron Schmitt said the committee serves to facilitate funds and provide help to Parks and Rec rather than have the money be jumbled through several city departments. He said rather than have a “misappropriation of taxpayer’s money” by pulling from several departments’ funds, TourMark will “keep everything out in the open” and make sure the public is aware of the transactions.
The last event receiving funds from TourMark was the Western Heritage Festival set to be held at the Sparks Heritage Museum from May 10-12. Anthea Humphreys, executive director at the museum, said the event is moving to a much larger scale than ever before and she hopes for it to become a signature event for the museum in the future.
“There is a void that has also been left in the market with the disappearance of the state fair and this is really a potential way to help fill some of that void,” Humphreys said. “It is focusing on the traditional Nevada arts and culture through demonstrations. Our western heritage has its ranching, railroading and mining. The variety of stuff we have in this area is where a lot of tourism potential comes from around here.”
The multi-day event will be moving to Victorian Avenue this year and Humphreys said it may even see a date change in the future. Due to budgetary constrictions, the event was scheduled for May, but she would like to push the event into October and perhaps provide some “synergy” for the city’s October events.
TourMark also heard presentations from Len Stevens, executive director at The Chamber, and Tony Marini, executive director of Hot August Nights, who were asking for $10,000 and $30,000, respectively. Stevens advocated for The Chamber’s portion of Star Spangled Sparks, which includes Sparks Marina events like hot air balloon rides, the Model Dairy Boat Ragata and Sparks Idol talent contest.
“A major part of the event that draws a lot of people is the Sparks Idol show. It draws a big crowd because of local talent that we utilize,” Stevens said. “Fox TV is working right now with American Idol to get us a guaranteed audition for the winner of Sparks Idol on American Idol, so that will lead to a lot more publicity to the event. They have been working on it now for about a month and a half.”
Stevens said the Sparks Idol changes have the potential to attract not only northern Nevadans but northern Californians as well, given that the agreement with Fox would pay for marketing and advertising outside of Nevada.
Stevens said TourMark paid $5,000 for the event last year and The Chamber will be looking to continue its strong partnership with volunteers such as the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows and various businesses in the region.
“If we ever lost (The Boys and Girls Club) with the chairs and tables and labor that they provide, it would be exorbitant,” Stevens said. “There would be no way we could put this event on. We have been very fortunate to secure a lot of volunteer and donation help to help us put this event on.”
Tony Marini said Hot August Nights has plenty of new happenings coming to the region this year, none bigger than the first Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auction of Hot August Nights. With 20 hours of live television coverage coming during the weekend, Marini said a pan-and-tilt camera will be focused on downtown Sparks to let the United States get a view of the Rail City.
“I think the marketing and advertising piece that is going to come along with this auction company is going to be huge on many different levels,” Marini said. “It is going to be able to market both cities, the event and introduce the United States to Reno again on a more positive note. We are going to be looked at as a major destination for the car world.”
Marini said Ford Motor Company and the Discovery Channel were both interested in the drag races taking place in Sparks during the event and added that the influx in revenue for the community would be immense.
“What Barrett Jackson brings is 4,000 people with credentials around their necks and million-dollar credit lines,” Marini said. “If they can afford a million dollar car you know they might gamble a little bit. That’s the customer we want to come to town.
“Their economic impact in other cities is around $40 million. Mandalay Bay told us that the weekend when Barrett is there mirrors New Year’s Eve, which in the casino world is your biggest weekend.”