Fri, Oct. 18

Editorial: Paid admission may be key for Thunder Valley Rally's bottom line

This week's discussion concerning the future of the Tilted Earth Wine and Music Festival offers a possible solution to Cottonwood's financially challenged Thunder Valley Rally.

Both events combined represent a 6-figure investment to make happen. And while they collectively generate considerable sales tax for the City of Cottonwood, bottom-line considerations beg for a break-even weekend against up-front costs.

The city's new agreed-upon partnership with the Tilted Earth organization provides some hope that the summer wine and music festival will break-even, if not provide a little profit for both parties.

The reason is because Tilted Earth charges admission. Thunder Valley Rally does not and that needs to change. The city cannot be expected to be this event's sugar daddy forever. Last year, it cost the city about $100,000 to host the event against only $14,500 in cash donations and $43,590 in-kind contributions.

A change of venue may be the answer for TVR. Tilted Earth takes place at Cottonwood's Riverfront Park. The park's design allows plenty of parking and an organized process for paid admissions.

Old Town is obviously a different story. Parking is a challenge. How to go about collecting admission is anyone's guess.

And with both events, the city could stand to take a page from the community's long-standing Verde River Day event at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Granted, the cost to put on Verde River Day hardly compares to the initial outlay for TVR or Tilted Earth -- up-front costs are only $7,000. Those costs are covered 100 percent through sponsorships, thus allowing for free admission and no fees for exhibitors.

Obviously, there is still a learning curve to make TVR more financially palatable, and the City Council has given the event the green light for at least another year.

Fortunately, there are some good examples out there on how to cover up-front costs.

It's up to the TVR committee to figure out how to make it happen for Thunder Valley Rally.

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