St. George Council continues to pony up help for first Friday Streetfest

"Newsies" actors perform during a Streetfest event in St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of The Stage Door, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — While expressing hope organizers will operate in the black this year, the St. George City Council agreed to waive a host of fees for the St. George Streetfest totaling nearly $2,300. The council also agreed to provide use of the city’s mobile stage and placement of no parking signs.

Streetfest includes 10 events with bands, food, and entertainment that begins at 6 p.m. on the first Friday of the month from March through December. The event is located on Tabernacle Street between 100 West and Main streets with a beer garden inside the Green Gate Village.

The increase in costs raises the city’s sponsorship of the event from $1,000 to $2,000 per month.

In addition to events on Tabernacle Street, two of the events will close Main Street between 79 North and Tabernacle but is not anticipated to interfere with City View residents.

Although the City Council agreed to waive several fees and granted the other requests, there is a limit to its sponsorship according to Councilwoman Michele Randall.

“I am willing to go all in on this, this time,” Randall said. “I hope and trust (the event) can be self-sustaining so that the city doesn’t have to be such a large participant.”

Since its origin about six years ago, Streetfest has struggled to turn a profit. Although it has been well received by the community, it didn’t operate in the black until last year.

At its height in 2019, Streetfest attracted nearly 20,000 visitors to the downtown festival. St. George, Utah, 2019 | Photo courtesy of St. George Streetfest, St. George News

Organizer Ed Tracey with A.R.T.S. Inc., is excited to be part of the event for his second year. When Tracey came on board, Streetfest was operating in the red by about $11,000, which is not good for a non-profit, he added.

“In my opinion, it should have been a true music and arts festival,” Tracey said. “Now we’ve made it into a true arts and crafts event, with food trucks, vendors and music.”

Through diligence and streamlining the event, attendance has skyrocketed attracting approximately 7,000 in March 2019 to nearly 20,000 by June.

“Last year was a great year,” Tracey said. ” We upped our numbers, we had a lot more visitors, we added different events and took away some things we were doing such as children’s bounce houses, but all in all we feel it was very successful.”

Along with the festivities planned, there will also be a classic car show, fashion show and a salute to local heroes. Proceeds from the event are planned to be donated to local non-profit companies each month.

“Last year, I made it a point to going to all of the businesses from St. George Boulevard down along Tabernacle … to let them know some of the changes,” Tracey said. “I asked if they were interested in having a (free vendor) booth to showcase their (business), and many were.”

As part of this effort, event organizers put the logo of each participating business in a passport for patrons to get signed off on to be placed in a drawing bin to win something special to show appreciation for shopping locally.

“We made every effort, as I will this year to have people frequent those businesses,” Tracey said.

Always a fan favorite, the Streetfest classic car show draws in the novices along with vintage car enthusiasts. St. George, Utah, 2019 | Photo courtesy of St. George Streetfest, St. George News

Some businesses such as Arts to Zion said 2019 was the first year they could attribute any business as a result of Streetfest.

At the suggestion of the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Board, an event sponsor, this year’s Streetfest will utilize the city’s mobile stage as a venue for larger bands coming in from throughout Utah and Las Vegas.

Although Tracey could not drop any names just yet, he guarantees that people living from as far as Salt Lake City will travel south to attend Streetfest.

“I took over last minute last year and it was to shoot from the hip from the beginning,” he said. “Looking back … we need to gauge where the people are coming from. We really didn’t do that last year.”

Through credit card monitoring, event organizers anticipate conducting targeted marketing campaigns in the future.

Mayor Jon Pike was pleased with Tracey’s presentation during Thursday’s meeting.

Residents enjoy food trucks and vendors at Streetfest, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of St. George Streetfest, St. George News

“There are challenges that come with having the apartments down there, but there are also good things,” Pike said. “There will be people who live, work and play downtown and this is one of the times they get to play.”

Pike added that he has noticed the improvements to the event and that it is making a difference, something echoed by city council members.

“I’ve been going for years with my involvement with the chamber of commerce, and it is in good hands with Ed,” Councilman Gregg McArthur said.

“I think this is really good for St. George,” he added. “This event is excellent for having something to do and creating culture in St. George.”

Still, McArthur questioned how long the city is willing to be a sponsor.

“I don’t know if we want to go that far in,” McArthur said. “I am not saying yes or no, but it’s in good hands.”

Tracey countered McArthur’s comments saying it is his hope he can cut the financial ties to the city moving into 2021.

“We would love to be self-sufficient,” Tracey said. “There is no reason it shouldn’t if it is done properly. Aside from in-kind contributions such as the stage, there will not be any financial sponsorship next year.”

Tracey believes the event will come close to break even this year.

“I am not lying. It’s a lot of work,” he said. “And, I love what this city has become. It has grown a lot and city officials have planned properly for events like Streetfest, which brings a little spice to St. George on a Friday night.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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