Lodging taxes to boost fair bookings

Island County commissioners awarded more than $280,000 in lodging sales tax funds Tuesday.

The money goes to local organizations, such as the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association, to promote tourism or specific events. The waterfront association received $9,375 to support next year’s Penn Cove Musselfest.

Commissioners awarded $20,000 to the Island County Fair Association to “book and promote more notable entertainers for the 2019 Whidbey Island Fair,” according to the contract.

“We are so grateful for it. It made a huge difference for us,” Fair Manager Carol Coble said.

For next year’s fair, happening July 18-21, Coble said she’s hoping to hire more local bands and other types of entertainment for the event. Last year, there were more than 20 bands that performed and the association hired a service that brings in actors dressed as Disney characters.

“We couldn’t have afforded that before,” Coble said.

Some organizations receive a large portion of their operating funding from the lodging tax, also called 2 percent funds.

The Coupeville Chamber of Commerce received more than $38,300 to run its visitor center and for marketing materials. The Langley chamber also will receive more than $30,000, which will go toward its visitor center, kiosk and tourism marketing.

Almost $10,000 went to the Deception Pass Foundation in support of its American Roots Music Series, which begins July 6. In the past, the series has included about four concerts, but the funding will allow it to run for eight consecutive Saturdays in 2019, according to Lorie Maul, foundation treasurer and fundraiser.

“We’ve never had this many,” Maul said.

Each concert is free and held at the amphitheater inside Deception Pass State Park.

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce received $21,940 for its Discover Clinton campaign, which includes more than 25,000 brochures and a 15-second commercial.

Each organization submitted an application for 2 percent funds, which were scored by the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.

Funding allocation was based on meeting objectives that included a focus on events in the off season or year-round facilities, projects with an island-wide benefit, community economic impact and others.

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