Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Ron Warnick
QCS Senior Writer 

Lodgers tax board OKs reimbursements for 3 events


December 14, 2022

The Tucumcari Lodgers Tax Board on Wednesday approved reimbursements of expenses for the Down at the Depot, Fired Up and Tucumcari Rawhide Days events after hearing required final reports from each of the organizers.

Connie Loveland, director of Tucumcari MainStreet that organized Down at the Depot and Fired Up, asked for reimbursements that were considerably less than what the board and city commission originally authorized, which pleased board Chairman Matt Bednorz.

Loveland requested $510.33 to cover expenses for Down at the Depot events in June, July and August. Those events were originally allotted up to $2,000 total.

Loveland requested $2,451.11 for Fired Up in September. It originally was allotted $9,000.

Loveland said the Down at the Depot events drew from 128 to 171 people, comparable to the previous year.

Loveland said the Fired Up festival drew about 2,000 people, about half of pre-pandemic levels. She said she was trying to “build back up” attendance in the wake of the COVID-19, and it did better than anticipated. It included visitors from Florida, Texas, Montana, Virginia and Kansas.

For the 2023 festival, Loveland said Rollerz Only car clubs have been enlisted to beef up Fired Up’s classic car show.

Loveland attributed the lower-than-budgeted expenses to Tucumcari MainStreet’s purchase of a large-format printer to help print advertisements. She said she also refrained from renting billboards due to their higher costs.

She also said Facebook had disallowed Fired Up advertisements due to them allegedly violating the platform’s community standards. Loveland said she didn’t receive word on what prompted the Facebook ad ban, though the surmised it might have been the axe-throwing booth.

She said she would ask New Mexico MainStreet to help with marketing the events in 2023. Loveland said she also was seeking to address parking issues at both events.

The board approved Karen Alarcon’s request for reimbursing $6,949.27 in expenses for Rawhide Days. That, along with an earlier $13,000 disbursement to help pay for bringing the Texas Longhorn cattle so they could be herded down Route 66, put the festival’s total expense near its budgeted $20,000.

Alarcon said the 2023 event will not have a conflict with another Longhorn livestock show as it did this year, and she anticipated more animals will be brought to Tucumcari. The Tucumcari Historical Museum is taking over organization of the festival.

She read a thank-you email from a woman, calling herself Rodeo Annie, who made a 2,000-mile trip to see the festival.

Alarcon said Lendall Borden wrote a song being used by one of the Longhorn cattle vendors in a video that promotes the event.

Alarcon said she also encountered problems with Facebook advertising and criticized the EventHub sponsorship platform for not living up to its promise.

The Rattler Reunion was scheduled to give a final report and reimbursement request on its event, but that was postponed to January.

In other business:

— Robyne Beaubien presented a report on city tourism marketing efforts.

She said guest survey links at Tucumcari motels to an online Google Form had seen poor response since it launched in August or September, with only three surveys completed. She said written forms experienced more participation.

Board member Michael Carlson suggested the city’s “Tucumcari Tonite” billboard campaign needed change, saying “There’s not something to get the kids excited.” Beaubien said a few billboards had been changed only recently, and she recommended the designs be kept for two to three years to accurately measure their effectiveness.

Beaubien said she was designing a social media ads for the holidays and winter months, including the Tucumcari Two Nights campaign. Those included ads in cooperation with New Mexico True placed in D Magazine in the Dallas-Fort Worth region and Texas Monthly magazine.

She said about 4,600 people had visited the TucumcariNM.com website through New Mexico True, with many from Oklahoma and the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Regarding TucumcariNM.com, she said the website will change from a Wordpress platform to Squarespace. Beaubien said the change not only would be cheaper at $500 a year, but would be easier to set up e-commerce pages. She said the transition would occur with no downtime for the website.

Beaubien said she was setting up an online media library where the city can store ads, videos and photos from tourism campaigns.

She said the Leighton Moon firm of Alamogordo designed a trade-show booth for the city that can be used at events.

— Tucumcari Public Schools assistant superintendent Dave Johnson presented city manager Paula Chacon and city commission liaison Mike Cherry with a thank-you plaque for the board recommending giving executive lodgers tax funds for the school district’s ballpark redevelopment project.

The city commission ultimately voted to give $400,000, which will cover most of the expenses for field lighting and ease the project’s cost overruns.

“Due to your support, we will put together a much better project,” Johnson said to the board. He also praised the city’s newfound cooperation with the school district and other entities.

— Chacon showed the board a new application for lodgers tax promotional funds. She said it had been reviewed by the city attorney. Bednorz asked board members to make suggestions to the application and present them by the January meeting.

— In response to Bednorz’s question, Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce director Scott Crotzer said the local Rotary Club was waiting to see when the high school’s graduation is before scheduling a day to renovate the “T” on the north face of Tucumcari Mountain.

Tucumcari seniors traditionally had helped with the annual refurbishing of the “T,” though that had halted in recent years because a previous owner barred people from the mesa due to littering and vandalism.


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