By Selwyn Harris
The question of who will organize and run the 2013 Pahrump Fall Festival came front and center at the Pahrump town board meeting last week.
The festival’s future garnered much attention last summer when a private group walked away from its responsibilities roughly a month before the event was to take place.
Quick action from town staff, board members and a host of volunteers saved the popular event from being cancelled at the 11th hour.
During the meeting last week, the board and staff discussed whether the town should continue to hold the event or outsource the responsibilities to a professional event organization.
The action will require a special town board meeting.
Town Manager Bill Kohbarger told the board that previous attempts to locate an event organizer were unsuccessful up to this point.
“We did put out a request for proposal RFP and we got no response. I did personally call three companies that had responded previously and advised that they would be willing or at least interested but we still got no response from them,” he said.
After conferring with town staff, Kohbarger came up with a list of four options to ensure the continuation of the future of the festival.
One of which turned out not to be an option after all.
“The only four that we could actually think of was outsourcing it to a professional event organization. Number two would be to contact some local or regional nonprofit group and gauge their interest in conducting the 2013 fall festival. Number three, town staff and volunteers would conduct the 2013 fall festival just like the 2012 version or number four which nobody really likes but it had to be on there, which is to cancel the 2013 fall festival. I’m strongly recommending that we don’t go with number four but I had to do my due diligence and list all areas,” he said.
Board member Dr. Tom Waters was the first to provide his suggestions on how the event should be handled.
“I would like to see a professional organization or a local or regional nonprofit take it over. I don’t think it should be on our town staff but number four is not an option. I think we definitely need a fall festival. Number three would be my last resort if we have to do it that way,” he said.
Board member Robert Adams sided with Waters’ suggestion but with one slight modification to that option.
“I’m very much in favor of number two. Not so much with regional but local. I think we can put something together this year,” he said.
Newly-elected member Amy Riches seemed to have a different train of thought on which option would be the best for the town and the festival.
She noted her experience in organizing similar events over the years.
“I have put on a lot of projects in my life. Big ones and little ones and by the town having put it on this last year, we should have like a master list of the vendors. I think with that master list, we could very well put it on ourselves and that is my feeling. If we have a master list, it should be a piece of cake at that point. I’ve put on a lot of events and it’s not as easy as it sounds but at least you have that list and you have something more than you had before. That’s my comment,” she said.
Board member Bill Dolan cautioned his colleagues on the dais about what pitfalls may occur if another non-profit organization were to take the reins and try to put on the event.
“A few years ago we attempted to give a non-profit the opportunity to take this on and we all saw what happened. Six weeks before the event, they dropped it in the town’s lap. The only one I feel like I can support here is number three and let the town take it back and do it right. Let’s build it. Let’s make it bigger and better and have a great fall festival,” Dolan said.
Town Board Chair Harley Kulkin, meanwhile, voiced his concerns to the town manager about whether town staff would be biting off more than they could chew if they were to continue organizing and putting on the festival.
“In reality is this a handicap for staff to take over or do you think they can actually do this? Is it too much of a burden? It is one thing to pitch in when everything is crashing down but to do this year after year, are we asking too much of staff?”
In a slightly measured response, Kohbarger sided with Waters, Adams, and town staff by suggesting that the day to day duties the staff presently handles, outweigh the additional responsibilities organizing the festival would present.
He said putting on the event each year would create its own set of problems for the town.
“It does take a lot of volunteering and a lot of time and if I said we will do it I’m going to get shot when I get to the office tomorrow so I’ll probably have to call in sick. Is it something we would probably do in 2013? Yes, but we’d definitely want to go out and find somebody for 2014 and beyond without a doubt,” he said.
Kulkin, in the meantime, offered yet an another option to the board.
He suggested that the board consult with the same man who proposed an event slated for next year to organize the festival.
Randy Burke is the brainchild behind Roadshows Inc., an entertainment company best known for the “Street Vibrations” motorcycle rally regularly held in Reno, Sparks, and Virginia City.
“If we are going to be reaching out to Mr. Burke and he says okay then we need to have a special meeting so we can approve that. We are looking for a motion that gives staff seven days to contact Mr. Burke and get a yes or no out of him,” he said.
Following a brief discussion, Kulkin motioned to direct town staff to come up with an event organizer within one week where a special meeting will be scheduled to disclose the findings.
Board members passed the item 5-0.