Cottonwood becomes financial partner in Tilted Earth Festival

COTTONWOOD -- There was a little tension in the air when two organizations asked the Cottonwood City Council for money Tuesday night.

The Tilted Earth Wine and Music Festival asked the city to invest $71,000 as a 50-percent partnership in the summer solstice event this year.

Waiting in the wings was Catholic Charities and the women who have organized One Person, One Night through the Homeless Coalition, a local program to house the homeless in motel, when temperatures drop to freezing or below. They asked for a $2,000 contribution.

Tilted Earth clearly has grown since its first outing, but Eric Glomski of Page Springs Cellars is anxious in 2016 to share the responsibilities and burden of the growing event. Last year, his operation lost about $68,000 plus employee wages, totaling more than $200,600. The event is the only wine and music festival in the state and the city has adopted it as a replacement for Rhythm and Ribs.

Under a proposal brought before the city council Tuesday, both the city and the vineyard would make equal investments in the mid-summer festival, when no other events are scheduled. With the popular sponsorships and gate fee proceeds, neither partner is predicated to lose more than $5,200 but would probably make money this year with the refinements. Each partner would be responsible for activities to match their strengths.

The kid's area was so popular last year that it won a best kids event award from Arizona Talent in Event Concepts, but its production was costly. That is one area that would be pared down with a $10 gate fee for the full day.

New proposals this year would include camping, two breweries (THAT and 4 Peaks), a local discount on Friday regional partnerships. Scheurman Wine Dinners would honor the memory of Henry Scheurman, the Verde Valley's first wine maker whose operation was shut down by Prohibition. Five wineries would present dinners with celebrity chefs the night before.

Council members mostly praised the event for its family friendly atmosphere that fits Cottonwood's economic plan. Councilman Tim Elinski worried about the risks involved with the expense of taxpayers' money.

Councilman Randy Garrison liked the fact that the presentation talked about real dollars, with no mention of potential sales tax revenue, which he said is an added plus. The Thunder Valley Rally wrap-up, by comparison, was mostly based on sales tax estimates.

"I haven't heard any complaints about this event," noted Vice Mayor Karen Pfiefer.

The council voted unanimously to approve the investment unanimously.

Councilman Ruben Jauregui was absent.

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