say volunteers make event
go despite lack of title sponsor
(June 2006) After surviving and
profiting from last years Madison Regatta event without
a title sponsor, the nonprofit committee heads into its 56th year of
Unlimited racing on the Ohio River again without a title sponsor but
more confident than last year that it can pull off a successful event.
Although Anheuser-Busch pulled out of the sport after the 2004 season,
including the retirement of its famous Big Red Beer Wagon
Unlimited race boat, Budweiser has contributed $10,000 to be an associate
sponsor for the 2006 Madison Regatta, set for July 1-2. Additional local
sponsors have lined up to put their names on various heat races and
festival events. The first official Regatta festival event begins Saturday,
June 24, with almost daily activities taking place through July 2.
This years president, Buddy Gaw, said he learned from last years
experience during which the not-for-profit committee operated on a $500,000
operating budget without a title sponsor. The committee made up the
lack of sponsor money at the gate, enjoying perfect weather and a large
turnout of fans on race days.
We are happy to have the $10,000 from Budweiser, but that is no
where near the amount we would have if we had a title sponsor. But that
doesnt prevent us from having an event; it just makes our job
harder, Gaw said following the June 14 Regatta membership meeting.
Gaw said the lack of sponsorship money forces the committee to curtail
its advertising and marketing budget. The committee must find more creative
ways to promote its event via word-of-mouth, the Internet and people
willing to donate their time to distribute brochures to neighboring
Its really the volunteers who make this event
happen. These are the people who love Madison and love boat racing.
The rest is all a big party with friends and family over the Fourth
of July weekend, said Gaw, 59.
A Louisville resident who works in the boat transport business, Gaw
has been a member of the Regattas safety and rescue team since
1981 and this year will spend his time on shore directing the activities
in and around the pits. Its the presidents job to
see that things get done, but not the presidents job to do it
all. Ive had tremendous help from a lot of people, and everything
is on schedule for another great year.
Vice president Monte Sever, 33, of Madison said the running joke each
year is that the committee is giving everyone a raise another
zero since it is an all-volunteer organization. Theres
a misconception out there that we are getting paid to do this, but we
all donate our time because we love the Regatta, said Sever, who
will become the youngest Regatta president ever next year.
Sever wants the public to provide its opinion on what type of other
boat classes it would like to see run on the river, and says people
may pick up an informational packet on the various classes at the Madison
Regatta office on the riverfront.
We love the Unlimiteds and vintage and 2.5 stocks, but we are
open to new ideas as we move ahead, Sever said.
Unlimited historian Fred Farley told the committee he would not want
to see the current classes go away because the Unlimiteds and 2.5 stocks
represent the full spectrum of the sports premier class (Unlimiteds)
and the lowest entry class of race boats.
The 2.5 stocks show that a guy doesnt have to mortgage his
house just to get into the sport, while the vintage exhibition races
demonstrate to the fans that these boats didnt just drop out of
the sky; it took years of technology development to get there,
by Don Ward
draws a crowd.
Sever said he wasnt suggesting that the Regatta
change its program necessarily, but that he wanted to hear the publics
input on the current race program for possible consideration for the
Gaw, meanwhile, made it his goal to increase the Regatta membership
under his reign and accomplished that mission with an increase of nearly
30 new members. The organization boats about 110 members this year,
up from about 80 before he took office.
We wanted to get some new blood into the organization because
these oldtimers wont be around forever, he said.
Advance admission to the Madison Regatta is $20 through
June 25, with children ages 10 and under free. Admission at the gate
is $25. The admission price includes three nights of Music on the River
entertainment from Wednesday-Friday, June 28-30.
A $3 collectors button sold at the music gates or an admission
wristband is required for attending Music on the River activities. Saturday
nights music program and fireworks show at dusk is free to the
The Regatta committee also sells VIP passes for $125, cold pit passes
for $20, tarp spaces and hospitality tent tickets. A parking pass is
$20; an official race program is $5 and a pit tour is $3. RV parking
To order any of these options, call the
Regatta office at (812) 265-5000 or visit the website: www.madisonregatta.com
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