State Music Festival organizers consider other venues besides Mizzou

Columbia could lose $1.3 million

State Music Festival organizers...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - For a half-century, the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) Music Festival has been held on the University of Missouri campus.

MSHSAA puts on dozens of festivals and competitions throughout the year for sports like basketball and activities like music or speech and debate. This year, the music festival will be bid out to any city statewide that wants to host it in 2018.

"In all things that we do with our state level events, we have a bid process," said Davine Davis, MSHSSA's executive director. "It's trying to treat everything the same way and give other parts of the state the opportunity to host if they would like to."

Megan McConachie of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau said she was surprised MSHSAA decided to bid out the festival, but understood the need to be fair to all cities.

Any city that believes it has the resources to support the festival can submit an application bid and turn it in to MSHSAA by March 6. The MSHSAA board will decide the venue at its meeting in the Ozarks in the first week of April.

The music festival brings in about 12,000 people to the city annually, with about a $1.3 million economic impact.

Other festivals, like Roots and Blues or True False Film Festival, garner about $860,000 and $2 million, respectively. 

McConachie said those numbers might not seem like they make a dramatic impact at face value, but in the long run, the city benefits greatly.

With sales tax revenue at an all-time low in Columbia, Chamber of Commerce president Matt McCormick believes that festivals and sporting events are of the utmost importance for the community's economy.

"When we have visitors from outside the community come in for our festivals, it gives them the opportunity to shop at stores they might not have in their own community," he said. "That new dollar sales tax money coming in is also what's used to help pay for safety, security and our roads."

The community is a key player in keeping many festivals in Columbia, especially those that the Convention and Visitors Bureau has to bid out because many of the festivals and events that come to Columbia are not a guarantee.

For instance, low community engagement was a main factor in the loss of the MSHSAA state basketball tournament to Springfield, still a sore spot for many Columbia leaders. Springfield raised $80,000 in mostly private donations last year to lure the tournament for 2018-2022.

The state music festival costs about $35,000 to put on, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau is hoping most of the money can come from local community members and businesses. 

"Whether or not the CVB will be giving any funds will depend on the community's support," said. McConachie. "We're going to see how that looks before we decide exactly how much we potentially may need to contribute."

Financial support isn't the only thing MSHSAA is looking for. The organization will also be looking for a warm welcome in the community atmosphere for the festival.

"I think as a community, we need to look at these holistically and across the board," said Broadway Hotel and Hampton Inn and Suites owner David Parmley. "We certainly shouldn't take anything for granted."

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