Matthews Alive gets funds early to prepare for festival

MATTHEWS – It’s not quite budget season yet, but organizers for the 2014 Matthews Alive festival already are securing bands and vendors, talking with potential sponsors and looking for ways of improvement with a $60,000 budget in mind.

The Matthews Board of Commissioners recently gave the go ahead for town staff to appropriate the festival funds early from town tourism funds so organizers can adequately get to work on plans for the annual festival. The town gave $59,000 to the festival last year, according to a town memo, which allowed organizers to raise the bar in terms of vendors and entertainment, including national-level bands for the weekend’s headline entertainment, which in most cases require deposits to book.

“We feel very fortunate the town is such a good partner,” Lee Anne Moore, the town’s special events manager, said. “I’m an early bird, so I start (planning) pretty early and already have started my checklist. Once we kind of know what types of things we can reach for, we start the process.”

Moore said organizers have already started work on this year’s festival, which will run Aug. 29 to Sept. 1, brainstorming ideas on how to make the 22nd annual event bigger and better than ever. She’s hoping to again secure national acts in different genres in terms of music performance to attract people of all ages and tastes. Those acts won’t officially be announced until summer.

In addition, Moore’s team is working on securing the carnival vendors, with hopes of finding ways to make more room for more rides, she said. Last year’s carnival section at times was overcrowded, she added, and tough to maneuver for individuals pushing strollers.

“How do we make traffic flow better?” Moore said. “We hope to make some new room there this year because people love to go into that area.”

Additionally, Moore said organizers are, like always, looking for ways expand. While the boundaries are set in terms of downtown, Moore said there is some room for growth in some retail spaces, like last year’s expansion into Griffin Square. The new space allowed the festival to spread out its kids’ area.

“We are footprint-challenged. I wish we could go a little further north and south, but we just try to do the best we can with the space we have. But I hope the retail growth continues,” she said.

Other changes could come to the festival’s annual parade, which this year has a new organizer in Angie Lee. Moore is confident the new leadership will bring some ideas and changes to the parade that are “bright and fresh and new,” she said. New entertainment also could be added to the south end of the craft vendor session, Moore said, in order to create more traffic for

And Moore is working diligently to enhance the cultural center stage that takes place at the Matthews community center, with hopes of evolving the attraction from “small kids’ groups to some destination acts” that people will travel to Matthews to see, Moore said.

“I really want that to become a true cultural stage,” she added.

While the Matthews Alive Board, which currently consists of 11 people in addition to Moore, is still working to secure sponsors, such as last year’s Novant Health and Wells Fargo, Moore said leaders will soon start communicating with area nonprofits who volunteer for the event. More than 2,200 nonprofit volunteers worked ticket booths, picked up trash and supplied the hands for last year’s successful event. The festival brought in more than $91,000, which was donated to the about 30 participating nonprofits.

Every year, at least one to two nonprofits are on waiting lists to help with Matthews Alive – that’s why expansion is so important, Moore said.

“We are always looking where we could use more help and determining if any (nonprofits) need to be added or if any are dropping out,” Moore said. “We couldn’t do it without them because 12 people could not run the whole festival. We just really see it as a win/win. They have a fun, pretty cool fundraiser for the fall, and we have an incredible staff for the course of the festival, and residents get a great event.”



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