Dare Tourism Board approves fireworks grants

Published 6:13 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

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Highlights from the March 17 Dare County Tourism Board meeting in Manteo include a review of National Park Service activities from Superintendent Dave Hallac, a budget and finance report and several grant applications awarded.

Hallac noted that the five eastern North Carolina National Parks include Cape Hatteras National Seashore with 75 miles of coastline, Cape Lookout National Seashore with another 58 miles, Wright Brothers National Memorial, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Moores Creek National Battlefield and operate with a $17 million budget.

This past year there were 3.98 million visits to the five official visitor centers run by a regular staff of 88 with 64 seasonal workers and a total of 27,105 volunteer hours. In addition, there were 54,757 off road vehicle permits issued and an extended camping season at Oregon Inlet and Ocracoke campgrounds helped account for 158,111 overnight campers.

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Looking at the once-a-year fireworks grant applications, the board approved all four applications received at a total of $55,000.

This year’s grant awards include:
$15,000 to Avon Property Owner’s Association for fireworks at the Avon Pier;
$12,200.00 to Town of Kill Devil Hills for fireworks at the Avalon Fishing Pier;
$15,300.00 to Town of Manteo for fireworks off a barge in Shallowbag Bay; and
$12,500.00 to Town of Nags Head for fireworks at the Nags Head Pier;

It was noted that prior year awards to Avon and Nags Head were rolled over due to COVID restrictions in place and Manteo has not yet finalized its contract with Pyrotechnico.

Also on the day’s agenda was continuation of an ongoing discussion and the review of a draft request for proposals for long-term management planning services.

According to Dare County Tourism Board executive director Lee Nettles, the board is looking for a qualified research and consulting company that can help develop a long-term tourism management plan specific to the Outer Banks.

“It’s important that we take this step in setting a path for sustainable tourism growth,” explained Nettles. “That includes being able to grow in a way that does not compromise the ideals we hold to be valuable and that make the Outer Banks special and unique.”

Tourism has for many decades become the largest economic engine on the Outer Banks and represents a $1.4 billion industry for Dare County.

Nettles stressed that the services are expected to include a community involvement phase in order to solicit comments from the public on the direction tourism management should take.

Proposals responses are due April 15 and an announcement of the company selected is expected by mid-May.

Looking at some actual tourism figures, amounts reported for January show an overall continued growth trend with some indications that things may level off in the near future.

While the $320,768.60 collected in January represents a 44.98 percent increase over the 2021 total of $221,256.93, this year’s January meals collections reported of $10,601,001 was a slight decline from the 2021 figures of $10,669,210.

Total gross retail sales collections for the county in 2021 came in at $407,482,612, a modest 4.27 percent increase over the $81,791,823 collected in 2020.

The board also dealt with the first wave of 2022 Event Grant applications and $164,700 was awarded to 14 organizations for 16 different fall events.

A review of the event grants awarded include:

● $1,000 to Chicamacomico Historical Association for the November 18-25 Chicamacomico Thanksgiving Festivities;
● $7,000 to Dare County Arts Council for the November 4-13 Outer Banks Veterans Week;
● $7,500 to Dare County Arts Council for the September 19-21 Surfalorus Film Festival;
● $18,000 to Dare County Motorsports Charity Group for a September 24-27 OB Bike Fest South;
● $20,000 to Eastern Surfing Association for the September 18-24 ESA Eastern Surfing Championship;
● $12,200 to First Flight High School for a December 1-3 Good Guys vs. Cancer Basketball Showcase;
● $3,500 to Garage Band Charities for a September 30-October 1 OBX Rod & Custom Fall Celebration;
● $6,500 to Hatteras Island Youth Education Foundation for a November 24 Surfin’ Turkey 5k & Puppy Drum Fun Run;
● $15,000 to Mustang Outreach Program for a June 11-12 Vusic Fest Event;
● $1,500 to Nags Head Surf Fishing Club for a June 15 Boyden Memorial Youth Fishing Tournament;
● $4,000 to Nags Head Surf Fishing Club for an October 5-7 Nags Head Surf Fishing Tournament;
● $4,500 to North Carolina Beach Buggy Association for an October 19-22 NCBBA Red Drum Tournament;
● $5,500 to Outer Banks Conservationists for Island Farm’s 2022 Pumpkin Patch events October 1, 8, 15 and 22;
● $35,000 to Outer Banks Seafood Festival for the October 15 OB Seafood Festival;
● $20,000 to Outer Banks Sporting Events for the annual Outer Banks Marathon November 11-13; and
● $3,500 to Town of Kill Devil Hills for the First Flight Holiday Markets in November and December.

At the end of business, the board agreed to avoid Spring Break and hold its next meeting on April 28.