City Council approves funding for event headliner

What started three years ago as an alternative to chopping down dying trees and chipping their stumps has grown to a summer festival and this year organizers say it will be bigger than ever.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Pike asked the Craig City Council Tuesday to approve a contract with Firefall, a country rock band, to provide a free concert during the Whiddle da Wood Wandezvous.

The concert will be held on June 22, which will be the last day of the Wandezvous and the judging of the carvings. The carvers will begin June 19.

Though booking the headliner could put the event up to $7,000 over budget, the council agreed unanimously.

"I think this is a great activity for our community," Councilor Kent Nielson said. "I'm willing to back it."

The contract called for the expenditure of not more than $11,000 for the band and other amenities, but that figure doesn't include hotel rooms, advertising, insurance or portable toilets, but Pike said he thinks many of those things can be donated.

"In the past we used local entertainment and I'd like to continue to do so, but I'd like to have a headliner," Pike said. "It's a nice thing to do for the citizens and possibly bring some folks from out of town to possibly spend some money downtown."

Whiddle da Wood started as a wood carving competition that drew six carvers. Last year 12 attended and this year, the full 12 slots for carvers have been filled with one on a waiting list. Between the carvers and the band, there is a need for 55 rooms. More than half of those rooms have been donated, Pike said, and he's gotten discount rates on the others.

Pike was budgeted to spend $5,500 after revenues and expenses are accounted for and so far plans to spend a little more than $21,500. Revenues from sponsors, vendors, concessions, the silent auction and a contribution from the Moffat County Tourism Association are approximately $14,000.

The event, he said, was never meant to be self-sustaining, but the city does make some money from vendors and concession sales.

"We'll more than likely run over budget with this entertainment," Pike said.

"We tried to think about a few ways to make up for that. We were going to sell beer, but we thought we wouldn't do that this year."

The city will take donations at the concert and Pike estimates there are 15 to 20 paid sponsors for the event and another 10 who donate in-kind services.

In the worst case scenario, the money could come from the city's contingency or reserve funds, Pike said. But he thinks the Parks and Recreation Department budget will be able to make up the difference.

"I'd like to run with it this year and see how it works," Pike said. "I think you'll find residents really enjoy themselves and businesses do well."

He said he thinks the concert will draw around 1,000 people, including many Steamboat Springs residents.

"I think these carvings will put us on the map someday," Pike said.

This year, the event will be held at the south side of City Park to more evenly distribute the carvings.

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