Railroad festival gets $50,000 from visitors bureau
Appeal Staff Writer
The Carson City Visitors and Convention Bureau has approved $50,000 for a festival celebrating what the festival director called a “rock star” in the train world.
The Visitors Bureau gave the money raised through room taxes to the Railroad Reflections International Art Expo specifically for funding marketing and advertising the V&T Railway.
“Our train is a star,” said Steven Saylor, festival director. “Our train is a rock star.”
Organizers said they expect the 4,500 visitors expected at the festival running July 17-Aug. 18 to have a $343,000 impact on the city.
In a video presentation to the board, a Mark Twain impersonator asked the bureau to “loosen up in the spirit of the Old West.”
But Saylor said the Visitors Bureau won’t have to fund the festival for long. He expects increasingly less, $25,000 for the second year and $15,000 for the third year, and, by the fourth year, Saylor said, the festival should be self-sufficient.
Though the bureau approved the money, board members had concerns.
“It’s awful big and aggressive right out of the barrel,” said Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira, adding later, “I have concerns but I love it. How’s that for walking the fence?”
Teixeira had to leave before the vote, but said he would prefer the festival moved its dates because having the festival in the summertime could be leave the city cramped for hotel space.
Though it is a railroad festival, the money needs to be used to promote the V&T Railway specifically, said board member Dwight Millard, and that’s why the board specifically directed the money to marketing and advertising.
The festival will host art shows, plays, films and lectures about trains.
Both Millard and Teixeira are also commissioners for the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, the state board in charge of the 18-mile tourist railroad that will run from Virginia City to Carson City. It is expected to be done by 2011 and cost $54 million, more than one-third of which will come from Carson City.
Saylor is working with the Northern Nevada Railroad Foundation, which has received about $120,000 in support from the state reconstruction commission, which said it has helped raised $1.4 million toward the railway’s construction.
Festival organizers said they plan to raise the rest of the $216,000 the festival will cost through advertising and private, corporate and government donations.
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.