Budget minded

Madison tourism board considers
reviving ‘A Taste of Madison’

Board seeks money in case funding sources run dry


(October 2008)
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Don Ward

The Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau is considering bringing back “A Taste of Madison,” an event last held six years ago and was eventually discontinued. With funding cuts possible from the City of Madison’s annual contribution toward the tourism budget for 2009, CVB board members say reviving this event may help replace lost budget money.
“We may lose $9,000 from the city’s contribution next year, so I say we do it,” said CVB board president Lucy Dattilo at the Sept. 22 monthly meeting.
Tourism director Linda Lytle said the event earned as much as $6,000, with about 300 people attending. the last time it was held, but added, “We may only make $4,000 the first year if we only get 200 people.”
If revived, Lytle said the indoor event could be scheduled for February or March and would likely be held at Clifty Inn. She added that it would likely be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on a Sunday. Tickets would be sold for $40, allowing visitors to sample foods from various local eateries.
In other news, the CVB board has given the Folk Festival committee until November to come up with enough sponsors, fully staffed sub-committees and a band schedule to continue holding the festival next May. The Folk Festival committee is enthusiastic about its chances of meeting its deadlines and keeping the three-year old event alive, said chairman John Walburn. He points out that the now 7-year-old Madison RIbberfest was not a hit the first year but took a couple of years before it took off. The CVB board, meanwhile, has decided it would terminate the event this time around if these goals were not met by November.
Lytle told the board she attended a Sports Commission meeting in Indianapolis recently while in town attending another meeting. She reported spending $500 for Madison to be included in a book to promote Indiana towns as sites for tournament organizers and sporting event planners. The board told Lytle it was not interested in pursuing a sports commission for Madison because the City of Madison staff and mayor did not support it. Lytle said the $500 came from the marketing fund, which is supplied by the Jefferson County Board of Tourism.
Lytle told the board that Hanover College is again playing host to an NCAA men’s and women’s Div. III cross country meet in October. “The last time they held it a couple of years ago, it filled all of our hotel rooms,” Lytle said.
Dattilo instructed Lytle not to pursue the sports commission effort because the board last January removed it from the board’s strategic plan as a goal.
In other news, the CVB board held a long debate about how it would react to the Sept. 18 vote by the King’s Daughters’ Hospital and Health Services’ Board of Managers to relocate the hospital to the hilltop within four years. The board decided to hold a joint meeting with the JCBT in October to develop a joint statement regarding the hospital’s move. They plan to attend the JCBT’s Oct. 8 meeting at the Visitors Center “to explore where we go from here,” said member Corey Murphy.
Lytle, a former member of the hospital’s Bethany Circle board, personally opposes the relocation to hilltop and suggested the issue be brought before the tourism Branding partners to develop a plan. The Branding Project is being handled by the city staff, which has hired Seattle tourism consultant Roger Brooks for $50,000 to direct the project and marketing component. The partners in the project include the city, tourism, Main Street Program, Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, and Economic Development Partners of Jefferson County, formerly MIDCOR.
“It might be possible to change the dynamics of the Branding Project to incorporate how we go forward and find ways to utilize those downtown buildings being left vacant by the hospital,” Murphy said.
Finally, member Joe Carr initiated a discussion about next year’s tourism budget, saying it will be due soon. Dattilo and Murphy have been working on the 2009 tourism budget, which totaled $250,000 this year.
Lytle said innkeepers tax revenue is up 3 percent this year and hopes that will help replace any lost funding that may occur as the city and county evaluate their contributions for 2009.
The city provided $10,000 to the 2008 budget, while the county provided $1,250. Special events contributed $66,200 and innkeepers tax revenue provided through the JCBT totaled $235,000. An additional $22,969 came from miscellaneous sources, such as gift shop sales.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.


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