Let's do this again!

July 15, 2011 • Local News

UFO Festival organizers had just one thing to say to city councilors Thursday night: Can we do it again the same way next year?
The event ran so smoothly, said Julie Shuster, one of the event’s planners, that she requested to renew the same basic contract between the UFO Museum and Research Center and the city of Roswell for the next festival, pending approval from the UFO Museum board of directors.

“This was a hugely successful event,” Shuster said during the monthly council meeting, thanking the city, county and state for contributing to the success of the annual Fourth of July four-day festival. “We do appreciate all the help we did get.”

This was the first year ever that the city and the UFO Museum entered into a joint written contract stating that they would [auth] co-host the festival together. In years past, there had been friction between the two entities, and the city and museum had held two separate UFO Festivals during the same weekend.

But 2011 was a different story, Shuster reported to the councilors.

Shuster said she has received positive feedback from visitors on several accounts, namely that they liked confining the festival to the downtown area where walking was made easy by blocking off the side streets, having vendors selling merchandise outside their stores on the street, the wine festival — which was the first one that Roswell had ever hosted — and the musical entertainment, especially the Battle of the Bands.

Roswell hotels were booked solid with 100 percent occupancy for two and a half days and 95 percent occupancy for the other nights, Shuster said. And another change that was well received in the community, Shuster said, was using local businesses for security, sanitation services, sound and lighting, printing flyers, posters and banners, and vendors for T-shirts and menus. Seventy percent of merchandise was ordered from local merchants.

The number of tourists who attended the festival this year totaled 9,209, Shuster said, which is on par with previous festivals.

She noted that the UFO Festival Committee was granted $150,000 from lodgers’ tax for the event, and that total expenditures were $108,722.58, which leaves $21,277.42 from the four draws it received to pay any outstanding items estimated in the range of $20,000.

The UFO Festival Committee generated an income of $15,428.55 from sales and the wine festival, Shuster said, which will benefit lodgers’ tax revenue.

It wasn’t a completely rosy picture though, Shuster said, in that the UFO Museum received criticism for canceling the parade and the barbecue competition due to lack of participation. Only five floats entered the parade this year, so it would have been an “embarrassment for the entrants, the committee and the city,” had it gone on as planned, Shuster said, quoting an anonymous commenter.

Next year, the UFO Festival Committee will get an earlier start on the parade to encourage participation, she said.

Mayor Del Jurney thanked Shuster and the other members of the UFO Festival Committee for “providing an event that Roswell can be proud of,” and told her that the councilors would consider renewing the contract at a later date.

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