Festival organizers pitch Port Angeles on buying event tent

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The organizers of two of the city’s best-known festivals are proposing the purchase of a large, circus-style event tent with $60,000 in lodging tax revenue.

Dan Maguire, executive director of the foundation that puts on the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts — which will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Memorial Day Weekend — and Scott Nagel, executive director of the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival — which marked its 12th year in October — requested the city use lodging tax funds to purchase a 60-foot by 150-foot tent.

If purchased, the tent likely would serve as the new main stage for the annual Juan de Fuca Festival, said Maguire,.

“To see this big beautiful tent with banners streaming — I think the visual impact alone would be stunning,” Maguire said.

Private groups can directly apply for lodging tax funds for use in tourism promotion, but capital projects, such as buying a tent, must be done by the city, said Nathan West, the city’s community and economic development director.

“When it comes to capital projects, it has to be a city-owned facility,” West said.

With a 4-3 vote Dec. 17, City Council members approved $605,800 worth of recommended lodging tax expenditures, which included $10,000 to fund finding and planning the tent purchase.

The remaining $50,000 would likely be part of a request for lodging tax funds in 2015, the event organizers said, which is the earliest the tent would be purchased.

The city would buy the tent and own it, West said.

It would contract with other groups to store, maintain, put up and take down the tent.

“The city’s purchase would be conditional on such a contract with any entity willing to do those things,” West said.

“That would have to be approved by council.”

Nagel said Friday those groups “would likely be the Juan de Fuca Festival and the Crab Festival.”

Maguire said the main goal of the new tent for the Juan de Fuca Festival would be a larger main music venue to replace the Vern Burton Community Center gym.

The gym can hold a maximum of 600 people, Maguire said, while tent would be able to hold 1,000.

“We’ll be able to book bigger acts and have more people,” Maguire said.

Though a final location has not been determined, the tent likely would be set up in downtown Port Angeles and would allow better access to the festival’s three other downtown venues, Maguire said.

From a larger perspective, Maguire said he and Nagel also envision making the tent available to rent as a way to encourage more festivals to make their home in downtown Port Angeles.

“I can just envision an amazing amount of stuff going on down there all summer long,” Maguire said. “There’s going to be a lot of folks that are going to want to use that tent.”

Nagel said the tent would allow the Crab Festival to save thousands of dollars per year by not having to a rent a tent and have it trucked up from Oregon.

The larger tent would accommodate more people than the one the crab festival currently uses, Nagel added.

West said the city wants to be supportive of these and other festivals whenever possible.

“We’re well aware the rental cost for the tent can be quite expensive, and we want to do what we can to assist in the success of these festivals as well as welcome new festivals to the Port Angeles downtown,” West said.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 22. 2013 7:12PM
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