By Nancy Lindsey
Tourism was a trending topic at the May 18 meeting of the Stuart Town Council.
Denny Alley, founder of the Patrick County Music Association, said the non-profit organization was started in 2002 by local musicians who wanted to keep the area’s bluegrass, country and gospel music alive.
Alley said the PCMA was asking the town for some funding to help it keep going. Tourists, local music fans and the musicians themselves contribute to tourism in the town and county by visiting local restaurants and spending money on food, gas, stores and shops.
According to information provided council members, “PCMA is a non-profit that exists by sponsors with paid ads, gifts, occasional grants in the past, and by a donation of $3 per attendee. This donation part is new and is working well. Funds are spent on programs, ads, sound system, and modest payments for travel to bands who perform each month.”
Mayor Ray Weiland said he knew a lot of people from outside the area travel here to enjoy the PCMA’s monthly music sessions.
“It’s very worthwhile,” Weiland said. He noted that the town budget was about to be approved (see related article). “We have a certain amount of money set aside for things like that,” he said.
Alley said another way the PCMA helps the community is by giving a free venue to local groups—including the 4-H Shooting Education Club, the Alzheimer’s Association, the PCHS Band Boosters, and Concord United Methodist Church, which makes homemade ice cream through the summer months.
The groups keep 100% of the money they make, Alley said.
The PCMA is changing its programming to have three bands performing each night and inviting young musicians to perform as the fourth part of the program, Alley said. The format has also changed from 12 performances per year to 11.
“We’ll give what we can,” Weiland said.
Jim Marion, a PCMA supporter who accompanied Alley, said the group was asking for about $1,000 to help increase its advertising.
The town budget has a contributions line of $15,000, with most of that amount going to the Caring Hearts Free Clinic and the Patrick County Community Food Bank.
The council took no action on the PCMA request.
Mike Gravely, owner of Outdoor Entertainment, also asked the council for financial assistance.
Gravely’s company has provided inflatables for kids to crawl in and slide down for many festivals in recent years.
He also enlivened the annual Fourth of July fireworks display at DeHart Park with a free children’s movie and inflatable toys.
Gravely said the park “looked like a black hole” in the past before the fireworks started, and he thought the event had grown with his children’s activities.
There was opposition the first year to showing all the movie before the fireworks, thus delaying them, he said. In response, he changed the format to show part of the movie and then continue it after the fireworks display.
Gravely said the Spooktacular introduced last Halloween was a big success. Main Street was blocked off, several local merchants supported it, kids got treat bags and adults enjoyed music, he said.
“It was a heck of a turnout for such short notice,” Gravely said.
Weiland said he would ask Billy Gammons, who helps with special town events, to contact Gravely and discuss the request.