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Outdoors TDA funds Outdoor Athlon in emergency online vote

Tourism Development Authority approves funding

Members of Franklin’s Tourism Development Authority (TDA) unanimously voted to provide funding for Franklin’s upcoming Outdoor Athlon event in an emergency vote on Aug. 11.

The TDA grant was approved after Rob Gasbarro and Cory McCall, proprietors of the downtown Franklin outfitter store Outdoor 76, presented their plans for holding the event later this fall at the Aug. 8 TDA meeting.

After being denied their request for $4,000 to pay for event expenditures last month, Gasbarro and McCall returned to make a revised request, emboldened by securing County Tourism Development Commission support, as well as local and national sponsors to back the event and booking national recording artist Zach Deputy. The board suggested that they readjust their budget before requesting advertising funds from the TDA.

After the meeting, according to McCall, the two organizers immediately re-adjusted the budget and sent their information to TDA Chairman Candy Presley via email. The following Thursday, Presley contacted TDA members and informed them of the emergency email vote.

TDA member Beverly Mason said that the unanimous vote was made in confidence that Gasbarro and McCall had a plan for the event, cornering a market in the process.

“I think it would be excellent to use the properties around the river for an event,” said Mason. “It’s good to use that river and those two seem to have it together ... I think the [Outdoor] Athlon will be good for toursim.”

The TDA granted Gasbarro and McCall $3,500 to pay for radio advertising for the event on Atlanta’s contemporary Christian radio station, 104.7 fm “The Fish.” In addition to the radio ad, which has already been secured, the Athlon organizers were also granted the use of two TDA-leased billboards in Georgia.

TDA member Ronnie Haven also assured the two that the event could be promoted on cable TV utilizing cable and time that the TDA already contracted for use throughout the year.

“There will be on-air giveaways, a radio personality will be here and radio coverage of it,” explained McCall. “The reason this is beneficial is because [The Fish] is the third largest radio station in Atlanta. We know it will get a good response, and it is crucial for us to focus on the Atlanta market.”

Reserved to be held at Cullasaja Park, just off of Fox Ridge Road in Franklin, the Oct. 8-9 event promises to showcase outdoor activities and promote local entertainment. The Outdoor Athlon, an outdoor triathlon and ultimate Frisbee tournament. will feature a climbing wall, disc golf, outdoor sport clinics, hiking and kayaking demonstrations are among the many proposed features at the event, which resembles Asheville’s Mountain Sports Festival.

Franklin Young Professionals, Boy Scouts of America, the Nantahala Hiking Club and other local organizations will be volunteering their time to help with the event. Some of the sponsors that have already signed on are Nantahala Outdoor Center, Sylvan Sport, Patagonia Footwear and Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.

McCall explained that the Outdoor Athlon will showcase “the best of outdoor sports in the best region of the state for the recreation.”

“The main objective is to allow people to see the natural resources in Macon County and the surrounding region,” he said. “It’s the Southeast’s premier playground for outdoor activities.” McCall gave his thanks to both the TDA and the Tourism Development Commission for supporting the project.


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