Sidney’s Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) committee held its regular meeting Wednesday, Oct. 2, and opened with an application from Chris Lee, activities director at Sidney High School. Lee was requesting 35 hotel rooms for six teams and five officials for the Sidney Eagle Wrestling Invitation scheduled for Dec. 6-7.
The request exceeds last year’s application, which was 25 rooms. Lee said that was because they are expecting more teams this year, with 29 currently confirmed. While the request was originally for 35 rooms, Lee told TBID they could settle for 30 and fund officials’ rooms themselves.
“We like to see growth in something like this, year after year,” TBID officer Aliza Hunter said. “That’s exactly what we’re here for.”
TBID officer Brandon Taylor agreed. He said the TBID criteria for funding is events that grow or at least stay steady. When events start seeing lower numbers, that’s when funding is pulled back. The committee agree to to fund the Eagle Invitational with 30 rooms at $70 plus tax per night for two night in December, to be split among five hotels.
Bakken Brew Fest
The discussion on funding events that grow came into play again during the meeting, this time when TBID fielded an application from the Bakken Brew Fest committee in the amount of $5,000 for marketing purposes. That same amount was requested and granted for the 2018 brew fest.
This year’s micro-brew festival is set for April 11, falling again on Easter weekend as it did last year. TBID members expressed concern about the timing, with some hotel managers noting they received many cancellations because of the holiday last year. Elaine Stedman, who presented the application on behalf of the brew fest committee, said it just happened to work out to the same weekend again this year due to other events happening on surrounding weekends.
Currently there are four confirmed breweries and local band Valley Cash booked for the event. Last year boasted 16 breweries, but that number was down from previous years, as was attendance.
“We gave $5,000 last year, but there was a decrease of people attending event,” Hunter said.
“Significant decrease,” TBID trustee Jaimie Dishon said.
Stedman said last year the festival was right at 500 people and estimated the year before was in the 600s. Bill Vander Weele, chamber executive director, said it’s difficult to talk brewers from western Montana into coming all the way to Sidney, especially on Easter weekend, but the feedback they receive overall still prefers spring instead of summer.
During discussion about the application later in the meeting, TBID members discussed the consequences of providing less funding.
“We don’t want to fracture the relationship we have with the chamber and I know this is a big yearly event, but the thing is if we’re not seeing gain year after year, it’s hard for us to give that $5,000. Especially if we’re not seeing the return in room nights,” Hunter said.
TBID ultimately approved funding for the Bakken Brew Fest marketing in the amount of $2,500.
In other news
A grant to Damon McLaughlin hockey tournament was paid for $13,000.
TBID approved a motion to roll over an Edward Jones CD for a three-year term in the amount of $19,000.