Madness lost $8K due to weather, staffing costs

Town could take over festival, or see it become own entity

by Mike Parks

Mint Hill budget discussions have unearthed a big surprise for town commissioners: Mint Hill Madness lost $8,386 last year.

“I’m stunned that they lost that kind of money,” Commissioner Tina Ross said at a recent town budget workshop. Commissioners learned of the loss for the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce event while reviewing financial documents. The chamber provided with their funding request.The organization is asking the town for $20,000 in funding this year and Town Manager Brian Welch is recommending a grant of $16,000.

Festival organizers say stormy weather was partly to blame for the deficit. Mint Hill Madness, which ran two days last year, is a key fundraiser for the chamber.

The annual event cost the chamber $68,053 last year but brought in much less, Chamber President Rich Ferretti said, partly due to rain keeping kids and families at home instead of on rides and buying snacks.

“You can’t predict that,” Ferretti said of last year’s bad weather. “You can only try to be ready for it.”

But another cost for the chamber was just how much time the group has to put into planning the massive annual event. The town board acknowledged during last month’s budget meeting that the chamber doesn’t have the manpower to organize the festival much longer.

The chamber’s budget request presented to Mint Hill last month shows the festival received $3,358.50 from their portion of ride tickets last year, $2,925 in food vendor fees and $8,250 in exhibitor fees. The main source of revenue was the $33,350 received in sponsorships.

But the costs of the festival are many, and included more than $13,000 in payroll expenses alone last year, not to mention more than $8,000 for power, $9,000 for entertainment like live music and $5,658 for security. Ferretti said when he looks at how much time chamber members spent last year just in planning for the festival, it’s a huge cost that has to be factored into their efforts.

But the festival keeps growing and has become a staple of the town. So what to do?

Ferretti said a time may be coming when the chamber no longer runs Mint Hill Madness. Town leaders discussed that possibility at their budget workshop, and weren’t exactly opposed to operating the festival down the road, though Welch cautioned “I don’t know that we’d love it” having that responsibility.

If the town didn’t take over the festival, and the chamber could no longer afford to run it, there’s a possibility an outside group could host Madness or it become its own entity, with a separate staff and budget.

“I think it’s something the chamber will always be involved in,” Ferretti said. “(It’s) really evolved into an entity on its own. It’s a lot of work to handle.”

As to the possibility of the chamber paying for a new Madness logo to go on new banners and signs, Ferretti said that was just a general conversation the chamber had and wasn’t a serious consideration. Members of the town board were under the impression in April that the chamber planned on changing the logo and asking Mint Hill for money for new banners, an idea that riled a few board members. Town leaders didn’t want to want to pay for a new logo when they say the old one is just fine, and Ferretti said he’s made it clear to the board that it’s something they aren’t planning on doing.

Welch has since been told the same thing.

“That’s my new understanding after meeting with them,” he said this week.

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