Move by CalaVida Arts Festival may affect TDC funding

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GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The CalaVida Arts Festival will be coming to the city earlier than its usual time.

The festival has been held in October for the past few years but it’s coming to Green Cove Springs in just a few months. The decision moves the festival into the same fiscal year as the 2019 event, and that may affect its funding from the Clay County Tourism Development Council.

“That’s two events in the same fiscal year,” Tourism Director Kimberly Morgan said. “They submitted an application for event marketing dollars for their April event. It’s up to this board to determine if they get their money.”

The board collectively agreed with an 8-0 vote during their Jan. 15 meeting the festival should receive grant money to fund the event citing its growth in the county and importance to the city of Green Cove Springs. TDC Chair Mike Cella said the last event was the biggest CalaVida Arts Festival yet, and that he believes it can carry that momentum into spring for an even bigger success.

The festival requested $3,500 but the TDC recommendation, which is based on a scoring metric, was $3,370. The Spring CalaVida Arts Festival will coincide with the city’s usual Food Truck Fridays, which start up again in March after a winter hiatus. This festival will run from April 27 to May 2.

In other business, bed tax collections are up 14.3% and the collections have finally reached a full year at the 5% rate. Morgan said that in March, she expects to receive detailed reports from a number of hired services that will determine if the rate is up because more people are visiting or because the collection rate is higher.

Morgan hopes bed tax collections rise throughout the year, and she and her team are heading to a Visit Florida-sponsored Florida Huddle in Jacksonville later this month. Florida Huddle is a travel show that hundreds of international travel-show operators will attend.

Morgan has positioned Clay County Tourism to have a booth visible for these operators as well as a Northeast Florida luncheon that will give herself and other regional tourism representatives time and a stage to speak directly to the operators that could bring additional tourism to the area.

“We will have a lot more visibility than we’ve ever been able to have,” Morgan said.

The Jan. 15 meeting concluded with a goodbye to member Steve Hart. He’s represented Keystone Heights on the TDC for the last four years. Green Cove Springs Mayor Steven Kelley will now hold the seat.

“I want to thank you all,” Hart said. “It’s been very enjoyable and I’m going to miss it.”

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