Rhema Music & Clothing gets council nod for 2021 Whittle the Wood entertainment services | CraigDailyPress.com

Rhema Music & Clothing gets council nod for 2021 Whittle the Wood entertainment services

Up to $85K available for entertainment

Tylor & The Train Robbers warm up the crowd Saturday during the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous in June 2019

City of Craig Parks and Recreation Department Director Ryan Dennison should remember Tuesday night’s city council meeting for a long time, considering it was the first time councilors pushed a department to ask for more funding.

Dennison approached councilors Tuesday night asking for the approval of of a $20,000 contract for Rhema Music & Clothing and instead received “no more than” $85,000 to spend on entertainment through Rhema Music’s James Williams, who will serve as sort of pseudo master of ceremonies at the 2021 Whittle the Wood event.

“Mr. Williams is hungry, he’s really excited to do this and seems very ambitious,” Dennison said. “It’s exciting to do things a little bit different with Whittle the Wood and see what we can do to improve it.”

In the past, Parks and Rec would be in charge of finding the musical entertainers and negotiating contracts. The contract with Williams will allow Parks and Rec to turn all that over to Williams and his company with the incentive to find a big-ticket performer to put Whittle the Wood on the map.

“I like the idea of going in this new direction with this new person,” Mayor Jarrod Ogden said. “We have got to try to put this event on the map; it’s gonna take one of those headliner bands to attract people. I get we’re not sure that this is going to happen next year, but we got together with the county and we got that DOLA grant. Loudy-Simpson Park is looking amazing and we have a great venue there; we’ve got to do this.”

The current operating budget for 2021’s Whittle the Wood is $125,000. Tuesday’s contract approval from councilors was just for entertainment funds.

“Imagine if we get to do this event how excited people will be to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, listen to live music and have fun, Councilor Andrea Camp said. ”It will be a huge year for this, just based on what we’ve dealt with this year alone.“

In addition to the increase in entertainment funding, Dennison announced that the event would move a week to not compete with Father’s Day weekend, or Country Jam in Grand Junction. Knowing that the city is moving the event back a week to attract more people, Camp pitched the idea of charging a fee to attend the event, whether that’s a special weekend pass, or a set day rate for the concerts.

“I don’t think you can do this free of charge, partly due to bringing in a bigger name entertainer,” Councilor Camp said. “We can’t be going to LMD [Local Marketing District] to supplement an event that we’re not charging for.

“It doesn’t have to be $50 a person, certainly, but events around us charge, so I think we have to charge.”

City Manager Peter Brixius pitched a hypothetical scenario, stating that charging $25 a ticket and attracting 3,000 people could pay for the event itself.

“The purpose of this is to build an economic stimulus, you know, that shot in the arm every summer to draw people in and help give our economy a boost every year,” Ogden said.

Late in the discussion with a decision needing to be made Tuesday night for contract purposes, Councilor Tony Bohrer made the motion to approve “no more than” $85,000 in spending on entertainment for the 2021 Whittle the Wood event. Councilor Ryan Hess seconded the motion.

In a vote, Councilor Chris Nichols was the lone “no” vote, while Councilor Paul James was absent.


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