With sponsorship money on the decline due to revenue losses during COVID-19, Madison Regatta officials recently went before the Jefferson County Board of Tourism asking for financial help, and on Thursday night, the board held a special meeting to appropriate $50,000 toward this year’s Madison Regatta & Roostertail Music Festival with an additional $10,000 earmarked for Visit Madison Inc. to market the event.
“The Regatta needs to happen and it’s vital to the community,” said JCBT board member Trevor Crafton.
“This is huge,” said Madison Regatta president Greg Thorpe, who said JCBT’s commitment to appropriate the money and “to take the time and meet on late notice” is a strong indication of “how much they care about what’s going on in the community.”
Thorpe said the Regatta is also involved in talks with Madison Mayor Bob Courtney with hopes of receiving a similar amount of funding from the City of Madison.
Thorpe noted the race “has never been canceled” due to funding but funding will determine how much they are able to do for this year’s event, which is scheduled for July 2-4. He said COVID-19 has impacted business and industry and that has reduced the amount of sponsorship dollars that are available.
“We’re not at the level of sponsorship dollars that they need,” Thorpe said. “We definitely want to do a Regatta. It’s just how that’s going to look.” He said the $50,000 commitment from JCBT “definitely helps” toward having a more full program for the Regatta.
The amount of funding received will impact what the non-profit Madison Regatta Inc. is able to offer this year. A few years ago the group voted to no longer go into debt to stage a race so if less dollars are available, there will have to be cuts made in the race program.
Thorpe said that could be a “cut down on the racing, on how many boats we have, cut down on the music, and how the big the bands we have are.” But if they can generate the funds “we’ll be able to have more of a traditional and normal Regatta.”
Thorpe said partnerships with local businesses and entities are important to the Regatta and the tourism industry and local business. The bigger and better the Regatta is the more tourists it is likely to draw and the more money will be spent at local businesses and hopefully remain local.
“Because of COVID our sponsorship dollars are down but I think we need to be working” with local entities, he said. He said the marketing arrangement in which VMI receives $10,000 from JCBT to work with the Regatta on promoting the event “keeps it local.”