Every year, thousands of tourists flock to festivals in Pasco County, spending money and getting to know the county’s best features.
They dine on kumquats, browse through arts and crafts booths, immerse themselves in Native American culture, listen to old-time music, and learn about the environment.
But, putting on those special events takes cash.
Each year the Pasco County Office of Tourism Development and the Tourist Development Council award $80,000 in grants to organizations staging special events.
For fiscal year 2016-17, applications for the grants will be accepted through April 13.
Staff members at tourism development will review the application packets and make recommendations to the council members. All applicants will then make presentations to the council on May 18.
“We look for unique events that can really draw people to the event,” said Pasco Tourism Manager Ed Caum, in a press release. “We also recognize that event success doesn’t happen overnight, so we look for the potential growth as well.”
Grants can be spent on promotions, marketing, paid advertising and media buys.
The Kumquat Festival, the Suncoast Arts Fest, Rattlesnake Festival and Chasco Fiesta are among past recipients.
The Pasco Eco Fest, which staged its first event in 2015, also got some seed money for the event through the county’s special events grant program.
Last year, about $69,000 of the $80,000 in grants was awarded. The remaining $14,000 was spent by Pasco tourism on marketing efforts for each of the recipients.
Some of the funds paid for advertisement buys on Facebook. One ad drew about 33,000 visits to the page, Caum said.
“We’re trying to show them the power of online ways to attract people from outside of the county,” he said. The ad reach doesn’t have to go far. Even those people who come from surrounding counties are tourists – known as day trippers – once they cross into Pasco, he said.
Once the Tourism Development Council makes it recommendations for grants, the Pasco County Commission will have final say, probably in July or August.
Funds will be available Oct. 1, with the start of fiscal year 2017.
To apply, call the Pasco County OTD at (727) 847-8129. Forms and requirements are available at PascoCountyFl.net.
Published March 30, 2016