Buellton approves grant funding for Fall Fest’s free concerts

A local organizer’s request for city funding on a battle of the bands contest and other music festivities in Buellton was met with success, but not without some resistance in regard to the vendor’s desired amount.

En Fuego Events applied for a $20,000 grant from the Buellton Arts and Culture Committee to combat costs of the concert lineup at the upcoming Fall Fest, a free family event scheduled to be held on Avenue of Flags, Nov. 10, 11, and 12. 

click to enlarge Buellton approves grant funding for Fall Fest’s free concerts
File photo courtesy of the Buellton Wine and Chili Festival
ANNUAL GATHERINGS: Buellton’s Fall Fest at Avenue of Flags is organized annually by En Fuego Events, which also hosts the Buellton Wine and Chili Festival and other local events throughout the year.

The committee recommended that the Buellton City Council, which considered the request during its Oct. 26 meeting, slash the ask in half and grant the applicant $10,000.

“I would like everyone to take into consideration that this is a private event where the funding is not going back to the city, the funding is not being laid out by the city, nor are we getting any of the funding back,” Mayor David King said at the hearing. “So, this is like funding somebody’s business and they take all the profit. But I do think that we should at least give some funding to this.”

During deliberations, Councilmember Elysia Lewis pointed out that admission to the festival is free and the desired funds would specifically go toward bringing live music acts to perform in the event’s concert lineup, while food trucks, carnival rides, and other attractions on-site are non-complimentary. 

Councilmember David Silva asked staff if there was a way to determine if last year’s Fall Fest increased tourism or resulted in an uptick in Transient Occupancy Tax.

“I don’t know that we’ve looked at that at this point,” City Manager Scott Wolfe said. “We should certainly look into that next year.”

According to the staff report, one of the Buellton Arts and Culture Committee’s reasons for not recommending the full $20,000 is because the committee discourages awarding grants to the same project in consecutive years, as En Fuego Events was awarded the same amount last year to fund the 2022 Fall Fest, which drew in about 17,000 guests.

However, the committee “felt that the impact of this particular grant was significant and that funding could be recommended this year as well,” according to the report, but advised that it should be reduced to $10,000.

“I want it to be successful. I think it’s a great thing for the valley,” Councilmember Hudson Hornick said of the annual Fall Fest. “I want to make sure that it’s something that continues, but I also want to be cognizant of the fact that this is taxpayer money that we’re, as our mayor said, just giving to a private institution.

“But if the Arts and Culture Committee, that was formed to debate things like this, thinks $10,000 is a fair give, I’ll make a motion to give $10,000,” added Hornick, whose motion was passed with a 5-0 vote. 

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