Hill Fares Poorly in Tourism Grants

By Patric Hedlund

The good news is that the Center of the World Festival won a $1,000 tourism grant this month. That will support web marketing efforts for this year’s summer playwriting competition held in Pine Mountain. The bad news is that COWFest had hoped for $10,000. Worse, they are the only grant funded for this area, and their award was the smallest of 13 grants made to all parts of the county for 2011.

The Tourism Promotion Grant Program is administered by the Kern County Board of Trade. For 2011, $100,000 was approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors to aid marketing efforts for attracting tourists. That is $150,000 less than in previous years.

No more than $10,000 per organization was allowed this year. Twenty-one applicants countywide requested over $185,000. The Board of Trade directors made recommendations to the supervisors. Stacey Havener represented the Frazier Mountain Communities.

Board of Trade Executive Director Rick Davis reports that in addition to the Center of the World Festival’s application, the Mountain Shakespeare Festival requested $7,920, and the Arts for Earth Foundation sought $9,548. He said the Arts for Earth application was not submitted by the deadline and was disqualified. The Center of the World Festival was awarded the $1,000 for out-ofarea marketing. Portions not awarded included requests for items not eligible for funding. In prior years, The Mountain Shakespeare Festival has been awarded two grants totaling $19,000 but, “The grant committee felt other applications would yield a higher return on investment this year,” Davis said. “There have been cycles where the Frazier Mountain area fared very well, due to the strength of the applications compared to others submitted,” he wrote.

Grants of $10,000 were approved for the Kern Valley River Council to market the Kern River Whitewater Festival; to Wally Parks NHRA Museum to promote the California Hot Rod Reunion; to Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce to participate in travel expos; to Theater Arts Productions to advertise Bakersfield theater events; and to the Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for installation of a 24- hour visitor information kiosk.

Two others received the full amount they requested. Kern River Valley Revitalization was awarded $8,000 to promote their upcoming Living Green Festival, while Kern River Valley Arts Association will pick up $5,700 for advertising its summer festivals and workshops. Four organizations will receive grants specifically for web-based marketing: Kernville Chamber of Commerce ($8,950), National Chavez Center at Keene ($6,000), West Kern Oil Museum in Taft ($5,000), and Pine Mountain based Center of the World Festival, Inc. ($1,000).

California City Economic Development Corporation was awarded $8,000 for marketing of area events and attractions via web, print and radio advertisements. Friends of Jawbone won approval for a $7,350 cinema advertising campaign targeting Southern California offroading enthusiasts.

The California Travel and Tourism Commission reports that visitors to Kern County spend $1.24 billion per year on lodging, food, goods, services, entertainment and recreation. That supports 13,500 Kern County jobs with an annual payroll of about $325 million.

This is part of the February 11, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.