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Chamber gets wedding festival funding

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Newly elected Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce board members Larry Chatt and Lynn Zemmer were all smiles at the chamber’s Oct. 20 board meeting. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce is getting $10,000 in funding from the Manatee County Tourist Development Council for the 2011 wedding festival, but approval did not come without some hard work by chamber officials.

At an Oct. 20 board meeting, chamber president Mary Ann Brockman credited Deb Wing, the chamber’s executive assistant, and former board president Mark Davis with assembling a business and marketing plan for the TDC that showed how the money would be used to target the Orlando area for stay-over visitors.

Wing said studies done from the first three festivals show a large percent of attendees came from the Orlando area for the one-day affair. With a two-day festival, the plan is to turn those day-trippers into “stay-overs,” Wing said.

Wing and Davis made the presentation at the TDC’s Oct. 18 meeting and initially met some resistance from several council members.

TDC board members Ed Chiles and David Teitelbaum, however, backed the plan and made successful pleas to other members for support.

Teitelbaum first said he had concerns during the TDC discussion about the funding request.

“The festival is so valuable to our community. I was a bit worried,” he said.

New chamber board member Larry Chatt said that, when the funding request appeared to lose support among TDC members, “Chiles and Teitelbaum brought it back and got it through.”

The money will be well spent, Wing assured the TDC and later the chamber board.

Wing already has $15,000 in commitments from sponsors and vendors for the 2011 festival, scheduled for Feb. 26-27.

The festival began in 2008 with 371 registered attendees. Last year, the festival drew more than 750 people. Many of the guests said they planned to stay for the weekend, prompting the chamber to plan a two-day affair.

Bayfest
In other news at the board meeting, board chair Cindy Thompson said initial reports indicate Bayfest was a resounding success. Actual figures will be available in November, she indicated.
“But we do know we will be able to award three scholarships to deserving students,” she said.

The chamber has a college scholarship program for area high school seniors interested in a career in business.

County update
Manatee County administrator Ed Hunzeker attended the meeting briefly to announce that the county is joining the chamber.

“I thought the county was already a member, but we’re not. So, it’s time to pony up and pay our dues,” he joked.

Hunzeker said there was nothing new to report on the Island trolley. The county plans to replace the current trolleys with new, more fuel-efficient vehicles that can withstand the rigors of the salt and sand generated on Anna Maria Island.

Brockman said the trolley advertisers are due a refund from the trolley advertising program until the new trolleys are up and running.

“We’ve had six months of great ads and we hope that keeps up” when the ad campaign resumes with the arrival of the new trolleys, she said.

Banquet
The annual installation of officers banquet is scheduled to for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, at the Key Royale Club, 700 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach.

Five new board members won seats in the recent election: Chatt, Lynn Zemmer, Eric Cairnes, Amy Van Dell and Lois Gift.

In addition to the installation ceremonies, the chamber will announce the winners of its small, medium and large “Business of the Year” awards, while the Rotary Club and the chamber will present someone with the “Business Person of the Year” award.

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