Most area festivals largely free of government financial support

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on May 14, 2014 - 12:41 PM

At last month’s meeting, the Mathews County Board of Supervisors turned down a request to fund the entire $682 in liability insurance costs for this weekend’s Tour de Chesapeake, instead making a $300 donation to the tour.

A quick survey found that other area festivals are largely independent of government support.

Cricket Call, co-chair of the Gwynn’s Island Festival, said liability costs for the annual event are covered under the regular insurance carried by the Gwynn’s Island Civic League, which sponsors the festival.

The Guinea Jubilee pays for its own insurance, as well, said organizer Tara Thomas. She said it’s always been a matter of pride with the event’s committee that “we take care of what we need to take care of.”

The Jubilee started as a way of recognizing watermen’s heritage, said Thomas, and Chuck Davis of Plaza Pharmacy was instrumental in organizing it. For a long time, the jubilee received support from the Abingdon Ruritan Club, she said, but the event is now independent and successful and “can afford to pay its way from one year to the next.

“We look on it as a good thing that it’s put on without a lot of help other than local sponsors,” said Thomas, pointing out that Chesapeake Bank is a major supporter.

“As far as the county is concerned,” she said, “we’ve never asked.”

Joe Heyman, chairman of the Urbanna Oyster Festival and a member of the Urbanna Town Council, said the oyster festival doesn’t receive any help from the town and, as possibly the most successful festival in the region, even pays for many town services it uses.