The City’s five year contract for the running of Fantasy Fest with the TDA (Tourist Development Association) expired. The Commissioners have the opportunity to reshape this home grown festival to suit the unique needs of this community, to begin with going forward I would first suggest a 2 year vs. 5 year contract.
The old contract with the City was only for a 2 day festival with 3 events (Street Fair, Masquerade March and Parade) however the TDA collected fees and sponsorships for “hosting” and “producing” an actual “10 day party in paradise.” I would estimate that between sponsorships, merchandising, vendor fee’s, retail sales, advertising etc. that the TDA /Market Share generates well over $400,000 dollars annually on this event. Last year, the TDA was only contractually obligated to reimburse the City $59,000 in costs (e.g. police, sanitation, etc.) for it’s supposed “two day event” which in turn costs the City approximately $181,000. The City had no figures available for the cost of the full ten day event itself.
In terms of financial benefits the unsubstantiated argument is made that the City collects “massive amount of sales tax over FF” but in fact the sales tax collected by the City is only a fraction of one cent, and how much is really collected in the City’s coffers from the busses from Miami and Homestead with their chairs and overflowing portable coolers already in hand? Two additional remedies would be to regulate the busses and to have the TDA pay for all City Services.
This next year’s theme of “Political Voodoo and Ballot Box Barbarians” in this politically polarized society, is an exceedingly bad idea, especially in a turbulent election year. Politics should never be mixed with alcohol. Voodoo and Barbarians would be just fine.
As Commissioner Weekly once advised a committee I was serving on “We can pretty much put anything we want to see into a new Fantasy Fest contract.”
I would encourage all residents to email their commissioners with their suggestions and constructive ideas.
(Retired Attorney, Author and Key West Resident)