CAPC considering 3 applicants for tourism director

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission is in the final stages of hiring a tourism director

At the commission’s workshop on Wednesday, May 12, search committee member Lynn Berry said the pool has been narrowed from 50 applicants to only three. Lynn Berry said the job has been posted on Indeed, the city’s website and for a month. Many of the applicants were “not suitable, nor were they matching any of the parameters that we had enumerated,” Lynn Berry said.

“So we ended up with eight qualified candidates, and at that time I vetted their social media platforms to make sure nothing was wonky out there,” Lynn Berry said. “I also did a search for them in news apps to see if their name showed up connected with some sort of … news that would not be favorable.”

Lynn Berry said one applicant was eliminated through that vetting process. Then another applicant decided to run for Congress and withdrew from consideration, Lynn Berry said. That’s when she called the remaining six applicants to gauge their interest in the position. One applicant immediately withdrew their application, Lynn Berry said, and another said she was furloughed from her job but would be starting back in June.

“So she was withdrawing from that as well,” Lynn Berry said.

That left four applicants, Lynn Berry said. She said she spoke with one of the applicants on the phone for an hour.

“She was well aware of items that had been in our local newspapers and she also had ideas about what we should do with the city advertising and promotion commission, the staff, the budget, who we should market to,” Lynn Berry said. “We had a lovely visit over the phone, and then she withdrew her application.”

That leaves three applicants, Lynn Berry said, and she would forward their applications to all the commissioners.

“Look for your emails,” Lynn Berry said.

Earlier in the workshop, the commission heard from Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission chairman Kevin Ruehle about the Fat Tire Festival. Ruehle said he spoke with Bruce Dunn, organizer for the Eurekan Multisport Festival, about taking on the Fat Tire Festival.

“There’s still some discussion and negotiations to figure out what that looks like and what the format is, the objective being getting back to what the Fat Tire Festival was five years ago … when people would come and race all three days,” Ruehle said.

Ruehle said he’s scheduling a meeting with Dunn and CAPC chairman Jeff Carter to discuss the festival. Ruehle said he wants to change the makeup of the festival so cyclists attend all three days. With mountain biking disciplines changing so much over the past few years, Ruehle said, there’s less crossover between events than there once was.

“But I think there’s still an opportunity to get Fat Tire back to where it was,” Ruehle said. “Back when I first started racing 10 years ago, it was not unusual to see 500 or 600 people on the event weekend. We have the ability to do that. We just have to work on it a little bit.”

It’s important to pick the right date, Ruehle said. Carter said he wanted to be sure everyone understands that the 2021 festival was not canceled but postponed.

“I feel like parks should run that event,” Carter said.

Commissioner Patrick Burnett said he’d love for the parks commission to be involved with the festival. Ruehle added that the commission employs Dave Renko, who created the Fat Tire Festival more than 20 years ago.

“Looking at it as a three-day stage race that attracts the cross country rider, I think, is the right approach to it,” Ruehle said. “There are no other three-day stage races that exist.”

Ruehle moved on to address the need for fireworks on the Fourth of July, saying he’s received a quote for a $10,000 show. Ruehle said he’d like to set the fireworks off from Planer Hill, so they would be “visible to the entire downtown area.”

The city can have the show on Friday, July 2, or Sunday, July 4, Ruehle said.

“I can speak from a lodging standpoint,” Burnett said. “It’s always great when you have an incentive to ask the guests to stay for that full holiday weekend.”

“Sunday night fireworks show sounds perfect for us,” Carter said.

“People are aching for an incentive to stay,” Burnett said. “They really are.”

Commissioner Melissa Greene asked if it would be possible to shoot the fireworks from Planer Hill and Mayor Butch Berry said he spoke with transit director Ken “Smitty” Smith who advised against it.

“Planer Hill is just too many buildings, just not a good spot,” Butch Berry said. “Marble Flats was perfect because nobody was around there. It’s easy to control. Leatherwood is the same thing.”

He added, “We’re going to have to get the fire marshal involved to approve it. The fire marshal probably won’t approve Planer Hill.”

Carter said having the show on the Fourth of July would be a “big win” for the city.

“We didn’t get to do fireworks last year,” Carter said. “This will really kick off the second half of our season. It will kick off the campaign Paradise is doing.”

Ruehle said the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Great Passion Play have expressed interest in contributing to the show.

“We could put on a better show if others were willing to contribute,” Ruehle said.

Carter advised Ruehle to move forward with the show and Ruehle said he’ll get in contact with the fire marshal.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at The Auditorium.

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