City councilors decided to again support the UFO and Fiddle and Griddle festivals, increasing the Lodger’s Tax funding this year.
The UFO Festival, which featured carnival rides and vendors last year, asked for $70,000 but was granted $75,000.
Eight councilors approved the funding. Councilor Dusty Huckabee, organizer of the event, abstained and Councilor Jeanine Corn-Best voted against the funding.
“I don’t think it’s being run correctly and right,” Corn-Best said. “We see the same thing year after year.”
Huckabee explained that attendees at the UFO Festival are counted when they stop by an information booth to fill out cards. They also have an opportunity to fill out questionnaires at a Chaves County Tourism Council center, he said.
That was not a sufficient way to get an accurate count of how many people attend the event, Corn-Best said.
“There’s no way on either one of those they can track their statistics,” Corn-Best said.
The festival is scheduled for July 3 through 5.
Huckabee said he hopes the planetarium will be open this year, and new permanent bathrooms will be completed next to the Chaves County Courthouse.
“If you talk to the motels in town, it’s a premier event,” Huckabee said. “We hold these people for three to five days. It’s spectacular … you see people from all over the world.”
On July 4, the event will be put on hold for the city’s fireworks show, put on by the Roswell Sertoma Club and fire department.
Last year, the UFO Festival asked for $65,000 and returned $2,000.
Huckabee said the auditing for the event was “very complicated” regarding what qualifies and what doesn’t qualify.
“Pretty much, we’ve been able to carry out all the events we want,” Huckabee said. “Also this year, we’ll have our bathrooms that the Legislature gave us in the last session. That takes a big load off the merchants downtown.”
The Fiddle and Griddle Festival, scheduled for June 6 to 8, was granted $56,250. The festival asked for $50,000 but that amount was increased based on need, according to Councilor Steve Henderson.
“It’s a great family event,” said organizer Huckabee. “There’s no charge to get into it. We do need to work on the motels. We’re trying to fill up the motel rooms.”
Huckabee said the organizers will be advertising across the country. The griddle competition is the highest-paying in the Southwest and is now nationally certified.
Councilors Huckabee and Jason Perry abstained from voting. Perry participated in the entertainment during last year’s event.
The funding was approved, with Best voting against it.
In other action, councilors approved a new Red Flag identity theft program. The Federal Trade Commission-mandated program requires all city departments be trained on recognizing and preventing identity theft.
Councilors also approved a New Mexico Department of Transportation project to put solar powered lighting along the Spring River Recreation Trail from Riverside Drive to Nevada Street.