The Johnston County Tourism Authority Board of Directors has approved new guidelines for the Special Event Grants Program for 2013-14.  In an effort to streamline the application for the event planners and reduce administrative work for the JCVB staff, new guidelines will go into effect July 1, 2013.

“For over 20 years, the Visitors Bureau has supported events and festivals with marketing dollars to attract visitors to the county and we continue to believe strongly in helping as many organizations as possible to build their attendance through marketing campaigns,” stated Donna Bailey-Taylor, Executive Director. “We are proposing planners embrace partnering with visitors industry businesses, we have reduced the amount of paperwork, and focused less on number of attendees but more on generating overnight stays.”

The Special Projects Committee, chaired by Trish Stewart had several meetings to discuss new procedures and the committee wrote and revised the application.  The highlights of the changes are as follows:

First, applications will be accepted throughout the fiscal year and approved by the board at monthly meetings.  Applications must be received 90 days prior to the event and must include the date, a 25-50 word description, photo, web link, press materials such as releases,  and the public phone number to be used by the Visitors Bureau on the county-wide event calendar.

Second, the number of applications per organization has gone from two to one; however, the amount available to the organization has increased from $250 for community events to $500.  In the past, organizations could apply for two grants and now they can receive the same amount with one application.  All towns in the county can apply for one grant for any event that targets visitors from outside Johnston County.

Third, major Annual Festivals are approved to receive $1,000 and need only provide the marketing materials to the Visitors Bureau 90 days out and hopefully at least six months prior to their events.  The major annual festivals have been identified as Benson Mule Days, Cleveland Strawberry Festival, Bentonville Battlefield Anniversary Event, Selma Railroad Days, Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival and the Clayton Harvest Festival.  The organizers of these events will also be eligible for one additional $500 grant should they host other events during the year which target visitors from outside the county.

Although not a requirement of receiving funds, the JCVB is encouraging event planners to involve visitor related businesses in their event plans for hotel packages, tickets plus deals for area restaurants or retail coupons in welcome bags, etc., to enhance the visitor experience and cross promote with area businesses.   The JCVB staff plans on hosting a workshop with event planners and inviting area businesses to meet and discuss ways to partner together.

Applications for 2013-14 Special Event Grants have been mailed out to event planners in the county and forms may be found on the bureau’s website here. Applications are for non-profit organizations only and may be returned to Angel Phillips, Office Manager at Johnston County Visitors Bureau, 235-A East Market St., Smithfield, NC  27577.