Saturday, July 01, 2006

"Local Reflector" on Showfest

That entire posting, as printed on the Showfest website forum, will spell the end of the annual event.

First, it was given a community reprieve because it helped raise funds for Burn Center. When it lost that "protection," it can be assumed that the Showfest would decline on some peoples' eyes. Second, for all the shootings and "violence" surrounding Showfest, I wonder how many of the defendants/suspects were actually Showfest visitors. You can't blame the Showfest crowd for the behavior of Greenvillians.

It never hit me that the entire local media was "negative" towards the Showfest. Maybe editorials, but I saw more positive reviews of Showfest than negative when you come right down to it. The lack of dialogue with local politicians can be understood because what local leader can really be seen embracing the Showfest? The community, in many sectors, simply doesn't recognize that Showfest was one of the few events where outside money circulated inside the city limits - a cash infusion.

My interpretation is that the politicians understood this and stayed relatively quiet through it all and turning a blind eye towards public consumption on the boulevard and female breast exposure - the exposure being the only unique "crime" being committed; people drink on Greenville's streets all the time. There are ways to play the political game in these controversial cases and I question whether the Showfest organizers played it to Delta specifications. The lack of sponsorships can be laid at the organizers' feet, but with 8 people, that could be extremely difficult. Shoot, the mighty Blues fest hardly gets medium-dollar advertisements.

So, if you drop the customary "blame the media" argument, the points for ending Showfest are quite compelling. I'm betting dwindling attendance and few sponsorships to pay the overhead costs played much higher roles than local public image. It's tough luring money into the Port City. Besides, the Showfest was designed for out-of-towners primarily.

What happens next, Greenville? There's no more burn center so no more incentive to organize local events around its money needs. There's no more Stingers. The Bluesmen are a memory (a cherished memory at that)Do you think the once-a-year Mississippi Valley State basketball game will tide you over every winter?

One day, it will have to turn around. I mean there is place called "Rock Bottom," then there's nothing else to do but spin around and head the other way.


Anonymous said...

This Sunday's D.D.T. reports the demise of showfest. But I must say. I saw it here on The Scoop first. Maybe The Scoop is the true resource for breaking news stories.
Support Forthright - CONTRIBUTE

Local Reflector said...

It's great that someone posted the Showfest information on the Delta Scoop and that "Forthright" - our new blogmaster - quickly posted it for the community to read. This is the essence of Delta Scoop concept. But, don't confuse it with competing with the Delta Democrat Times. Local dialogue is a community concern.

I commend the Times for covering the story as it's highly important and an issue that transcends a "Showfest"; it means the loss of outside revenue or new cash coming into town.

Why is that important?

Well, if you consider the numbers of locals who rely on government subsidies/direct payouts, you have a prescribed amount of cash arriving monthly in local mailboxes. The good news is that this cash doesn't shrink when the economy shrinks and is resistant, in actual amounts, to the ebb and flow of market economics. All the utility companies and landlords can count on so much money being available the first week of every month.

The drawback is that while this financial infusion is stable, it never grows and it never creates economic booms. It's enough money to keep a roof over one's head, but one will never see middle class status by relying on it. If its buying power, community-wide, fails, then you're experiencing an influx of welfare recipients or more jobs have left - jobs which likely paid somewhat better wages.

When an event like Showfest can perform in Greenville, suddenly you have a flow of income directly into local merchants' coffers and the city accounts. It's all disposal, after-tax income and, given recent years, it makes people happy except the churches who need something tangible to fight (as opposed to tackling moral apathy which we know exists but cannot physically see) and the people who purposely cruise HWY 82 near Raceway Road in hopes of being offended.

Now, one of Greenville's 52 yearly weekends is darkened by another event's assumed "death." Was a million dollars a day in economic impact killed with it? Maybe if you count how many times the outside cash will turn over within the community. Nonetheless, that's wasted economic impact which the beloved Blues Festival will not match anytime soon.

If you check economic impact, why couldn't the city have helped Showfest? What makes the Blues Festival culturally superior to a car show, when the city's bottom-line is what's most important? The answer is nothing. One event packed the city's major thoroughfare for two nights a year and sold motels out. The other draws about four thousand (maybe) people to an open field to hear great music but not hang around long enough to eat more than one meal in town.

Ten grand given to hire a band would've given the city cash to tighten the security a little better. The city shouldn't support a car show that cannot afford to support itself, unlike the Blues Festival.

I running off into a tangent, but the more you hash our ideas and issues, the more certain things become apparent as to why things are as they are. The issue isn't Showfest, it's economics. When a community is so inclined to consider local government as a job-creating entity and substitute grants as proof of economic developement, maybe it cannot understand that a little accomodation for perceived inconveniences can go a long way.

And to think, Showfest wasn't in the city soaking up tax exemptions and making a bunch of empty promises. It just wanted to hold a show at a convention center whose grounds were perfect for such an event.

Maybe the problem is that event organizers aren't deceptive enough in proclaiming they can usher in two days of economic "heaven" every year.