April 12, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Resolution Authorizing Tourism Development Authority Funding Request for Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider the attached resolution formally authorizing a $35,000 funding request to the Carteret County Tourism Development Authority for the development of a new beach music festival in Emerald Isle.  If awarded, the Town would match these funds with $15,000 generated by the event to provide a total event budget of $50,000.  The Town’s goal is to recreate the success of the original Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival held annually in the 1980s and 1990s, and hopefully draw a crowd of 10,000 people or more to Emerald Isle in late September each year. 

As discussed in the past, including in the Town’s 2014 Economic Development Strategic Plan, there is a desire in the Town to develop activities and amenities that will promote increased visitation to Emerald Isle in the spring, fall, and winter months.   Additionally, as noted in the 2014 plan and also during the 2015 Town Commissioner campaign, there is a desire to offer more events on the beach strand itself.  After much discussion with the Board, Town staff, members of the local business community, and the Emerald Isle Business Association, Town staff is now in early stages of development for an updated version of the Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival. 

The original Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival, produced by Emerald Isle businessmen in the 1980s and 1990s, was hugely successful and routinely drew crowds of up to 15,000 people in Emerald Isle during the spring each year, often introducing new people to Emerald Isle.  Town staff have discussed the idea of recreating the festival with the original producers, and they fully support the Town’s effort.  If all goes as planned, we hope to draw a crowd of 10,000 or more to Emerald Isle for the weekend of September 24, 2016, with future goals to eclipse the attendance of the original Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival and eventually rival attendance at the Town’s St. Patrick’s Festival (in excess of 25,000) held annually in March.

If the Board concurs, the new Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival would be held at the Western Ocean Regional Access, and would be a free community event.  A temporary stage would be erected on the existing beach viewing platform between the volleyball courts and the handicapped ramp, and musical performers would face the ocean.  The crowd would view the musical performers from the beach strand (it is likely that a 1 mile segment of the beach strand would be closed to beach driving that day), and the main beach access walkway would remain open for attendees to freely move between the beach strand and the restroom / parking area.  Food and other vendors would set up in the parking area.  Event parking would be located on the NC 58 right of way, and handled in a similar manner as the annual St. Patrick’s Festival.  (We are also hopeful that many attendees would walk via the beach strand or bicycle path.)  The event would begin at 11 am, and would likely continue until 5 pm or slightly later.  A total of 4 – 5 bands, including popular beach music performers from the original festival and popular regional bands would perform for approximately 1 hour each, with DJ services during breaks. 

As is the case every day, beer and unfortified wine would be permitted to be consumed on the beach strand that day, and we anticipate that many attendees would bring their own beverages.  EIPD and NC ALE officers would be on hand in sufficient numbers to prevent underage consumption and maintain order at the event.  No beer or unfortified wine would be permitted to be consumed on the grounds of the Western Ocean Regional Access (above the flat beach strand and dune line), in accordance with current regulations.  A special family-friendly zone would also likely be established in this area, potentially near the volleyball courts.  I have attached an aerial photo map indicating the general setup for the event.

As noted above, we have established a total budget of $50,000 for the 2016 event.  This amount includes:

                $ 35,000                                musical entertainment

                $   3,000                                stage rental

                $   3,000                                portable toilet rental

                $   6,000                                electrical improvements or generator

                $   3,000                                advertising and marketing

                $ 50,000                                TOTAL.

Total event revenues include:

                $ 35,000                                Tourism Development Authority “Event Funding”

                $   5,000                                vendor fees

                $   5,000                                sponsorships

                $   5,000                                t-shirt sales

                $ 50,000                                TOTAL.

If the Board approves the attached resolution, we expect to submit the TDA funding request soon after the April 12 meeting.  We are hopeful that the TDA will make a funding decision no later than June 1 (ideally sooner), after which we would execute contracts with musical performers and begin advertising the event for September 24, 2016.  If TDA funding is not awarded, we will need to reconsider our ability to produce this event in 2016, and will likely focus on a September 2017 date.

If this event gains traction, the Town would then have a series of high attendance events in the spring, fall, and winter each year, including the St. Patrick’s Festival (March), Emerald Isle Marathon–Half Marathon–5K races (late March / early April), new Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival (September), and Christmas Parade (November).

If the Board concurs, and the Town is able to produce a new Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival, it will be essential for the EIPD and NC ALE to control underage drinking and maintain order.  It will be equally important for Town staff to quickly and effectively clean up during and after the event.  It will also be important for the EI Fire Department and EI EMS to be on scene and prepared to respond to any emergencies, including water rescue situations.  I am confident that we can achieve these goals with proper planning. 

As you know, late September typically offers some of the absolute best weather in Emerald Isle.  The air temperature is usually in the 70s and 80s, the water temperature is still warm enough to swim, and the humidity levels are typically more comfortable.  There is, however, the ever-present risk of hurricane impacts during this time of year, and we will obviously need good weather to produce a successful event. 

I look forward to discussing plans for the new Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival at the April 12 meeting.