After more than a year of debate and consideration, the Town of Franklin Tourism Development Authority unanimously voted on Monday to sponsor a motorcycle event scheduled for next year.
During the past several years Macon County has witnessed an influx of motorcycle tourism, as it serves as a scenic passage to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the mountain roads of Western North Carolina.
The TDA plans to capitalize on Macon County’s role as a motorcycle corridor, and by holding a three-day biker rally, it hopes to establish Franklin as a biker destination.
In recent months, the board met with Thunderwind Publishing president Sylvia Cochran to help promote the event. Cochran organizes and promotes several motorcycle rallies around the country, including the annual Reunion Run in Helen, Ga., through her motorcycle enthusiast publications. Cochran requested $10,800 from the TDA for her services, after receiving $4,000 from the board last spring.
Through her publications, Cochran plans to market the Franklin event, by running full page advertisements for three months in Thunder Press Motorcycle Magazine and running full page color ads beginning in January until the month of the event in U.S. Rider News.
In addition to using her own publications, Cochran plans to run advertisements in other newspapers and radio stations in the surrounding areas, according to her grant request, which also indicates the distribution of 10,000 promotional event fliers and the creation of a Facebook account.
“We are going to flood the market with information about it,” said Cochran of the event, stressing at the behest of her husband and colleague that it be billed as a “fest or festival” to rid the event of any negative connotations.
By bringing motorcycle tourism into Franklin, Cochran said the goal would be to provide “heads in beds” revenue for area hotels and motels, as well as local businesses. “We really want this to be locally- driven,” she said.
Among the uses of cash in Cochran’s $14,800 grant request, $500 will be set aside to pay off-duty law enforcement for security detail of the venue, $2,800 for hotel rooms, sounds and lights for stage productions, $6,500 for printed advertising and $3,500 to operate a Facebook page to promote the event. TDA members unanimously approved the grant request.
After some discussion, the TDA also unanimously voted to schedule the motorcycle festival for Aug. 17-19. TDA Chairman Candy Arvey noted that there were no events planned on the Chamber of Commerce event calendar for that month of 2012.
“All of our musical events will be held downtown at the gazebo and will be free to the public,” said Arvey, explaining that the festival will be held at the grounds on the Sylva Road. The venue is home to Franklin’s Gem Show exhibitions. “It will be spread out.”
But having such an event may not be in the town’s best interest, according to Town Alderman Bob Scott, who has publicly deplored a townsponsored biker rally in the past. “This has all the potential to give Franklin a black eye,” he said. “I think it is ridiculous. It’s out of keeping with a town that is family friendly.” Scott added that he is skeptical of funds granted for the festival and that all he can do is “sit back and see what happens.”
TDA members on the other hand stressed that the goal of the event is strictly to earn tourism dollars, and not to bring in raucous motorcyclists. “We want to make the economy stronger here in Macon County and we know the rally would attract business,” said Arvey. “They are already coming here and have been coming through here for a while now.”
“People may look down upon bikers and what they stand for,” Arvey continued. “They may think of them as rough or those who cause trouble, but that’s not what we’re promoting. We know that they’re spenders. They are lawyers, doctors and good people. You’re going to have your few that raise Cain and cause an uproar, but we have that now, we have it locally.”
TDA funds town holiday events
Linda Schlott, director of the Main Street Program, approached the board with grant requests for Christmas events as well as this year’s Pumpkinfest.
“Each year we try to do something different,” said Schlott, indicating that this year Pumpkinfest will replace last year’s puppet show with a roving magician to dazzle the crowd with magic.
Schlott boasted that every year the downtown area has steadily seen an increase of tourism dollars and public turnout for both Pumpkinfest and Winter Wonderland. Her request was for $2,000 and $3,500, respectively.
This year, Greenwood recommended that the board approve the requests with the caveat that any profits made during Pumpkinfest go back into a fund for the following year. The move would make the event far more sustainable, he noted.
County Commissioner and TDA member- Ronnie Haven motioned to grant Cochran’s request and fellow TDA member and local realtor Ron Winecoff seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Franklin puts stock in footage
In recent months, local artist turned filmmaker, Michael M. Rogers along with local web designer Tony Angel, began producing promotional videos for the Town of Franklin.
Rogers filmed videos of April Fool’s Trail Days, the Airing of the Quilts and the Taste of Scotland festivals—all sponsored by the town, which can be found on the Discoverfranklinnc.com website or the Youtube channel of the same name.
“This high definition footage can now be used for future TV commercials as well as individual YouTube promos, pending your approval,” Rogers said in a TDA proposal of his services.
“I thoroughly enjoyed making the films,” Rogers told TDA members as he played clips from the Taste of Scotland. “I am available for any events in the future.”
According to his proposal, Rogers would be available to film at any future events at $250, plus $50 an hour to edit each video, a process he says has taken so far approximately 4-5 hours.
TDA members voted unanimously to retain a $450 flat fee for Rogers’ services.