By Vicki Hyatt
January 28, 2023
Tourism leaders gave out $225,000 in their latest round of grant funding, including support for a number of new events and projects that locals and tourists alike can look forward to this spring.
Among the events will be an antique car and truck show with a novel twist, a revival of other festivals not held since before Covid, new outdoor murals and a hootenanny.
The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority collects a 4% room tax on all overnight accommodations in the county, which totaled nearly $3 million last year. The 12-member board then determines how the funds should be used to best promote and enhance tourism in the county.
The TDA sets aside a portion of the room tax — equivalent to 1% out the total 4% — to give out as grants. Grant funding is allocated to each of five zip code areas in the county — Canton, Clyde, Lake Junaluska, Maggie Valley and Waynesville — based on the amount of room tax originating from that zip code.
The majority of the grants are awarded in June to coincide with start of the fiscal year. But there is a second round of funding dispersed during the winter if collections exceed expectations.
Here’s some of the projects approved by the TDA board at its meeting Wednesday, held at the Lake Junaluska Welcome Center:
Three projects that will spice up public art across the county got the nod for grant funding — including two murals.
The Downtown Waynesville Commission got $5,000 to create a mural depicting a collage of historic downtown photos along the alleyway between Main and Wall streets, beside Beverly Hanks. The mural will actually be made of vinyl and adhered to the brick wall.
The Haywood County Arts Council was awarded a trio of $500 grants for “Mural Mondays” from the Canton, Clyde and Waynesville pots of funding. The project is a collaboration with the schools and sponsoring businesses, where artists will work with 15 or so students for two hours after school each Monday to create a murals. The application proposal expects the projects to take three months.
A second arts council proposal is to build upon the Quilt Trails of WNC to include quilt blocks for businesses. The arts council got $2,200 total, with Canton, Maggie, Waynesville and Clyde zip codes all pitching in.
Grants will also support three festivals that disappeared during Covid, along with a slew of returning festivals. The Historic Frog Level Merchants Association was awarded $2,800 to bring back The Whole Bloomin’ Thing spring festival, which had been a popular event on Mother’s Day weekend for two decades but was last held in 2019.
The Downtown Waynesville Commission got $2,000 to bring back the chili cook-off — which was last held in January 2020 right before Covid.
The arts council received $2,000 to host an Appalachian Dance Hootenanny April 1 at the Folkmoot Center. A re-incarnation of the Mootenanny that was held just once in 2019 before Covid hit, the event will pay homage to the local heritage and traditions, the application states.
A new festival on the docket will be a family friendly, vehicle-lovers event at Haywood Community College on April 29 featuring classic and vintage cars/trucks, custom, off-road and modern vehicles. A 1957 Bel-Air car refurbished by the college’s automative department will be sold at an online public auction, according to the grant application. The event, hosted by the Haywood Community College Foundation, was awarded $5,280.
Maggie Valley got $8,000 to defray promotional costs for its inaugural Winter Ice Festival, being held Saturday, Jan. 28. The WNC Jeepers got $4,000 for the WNC Jeep Fest held in Maggie.
Both Maggie Valley and Lake Junaluska got funding for their respective July Fourth fireworks — $9,000 for Maggie Valley and $7,300 for Lake Junaluska.
Most zip code locales earmarked a chunk of their available grant funding to advertising and promotions: $16,000 in Canton, $24,000 in Lake Junaluska, $25,000 in Maggie Valley and $33,000 in Waynesville.
Other projects included $4,500 for new visitor information kiosks at Lake Junaluska, $4,000 for a rain garden beautification project in downtown Waynesville, and $2,400 for a Chestnut Mountain Park bike playground for kids in Canton, though the town had requested $30,000 for the project.
In Maggie Valley, the town was awarded two grants to help with the latest improvements to the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. The break-down includes $2,000 for new stage curtains and $60,000 to remove structures on land purchased adjacent to the festival grounds that will open the view shed and increase parking.