City Council Wants To Know More About Possible Eclipse Fest Promoter
Casper City Council wants to know more about the firm it may hire to plan and conduct the events leading to the city's celebration of the total eclipse of the sun in August 2017.
"I would like to move to table this discussion to December the eighth at 4:30 to allow more time for contract negotiation and clarification," council member Steve Cathey said Tuesday.
This is a special meeting. People can sign up at the City Manager's office to speak, and the deadline for signing up is noon Monday.
The contract, if approved next week, would pay the Colorado Springs-based Forte Events Inc., $275,300 to run Eclipse Fest.
Casper is one of the few cities in the nation that will experience the total eclipse. The rare event is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors to central Wyoming, City Manager V.H. McDonald told the council.
Earlier this year, a group of volunteers began meeting to plan for the event, McDonald said.
A smaller committee within that group decided an executive director of the event was needed. In cooperation with the larger group, it sought proposals to organize Eclipse Fest, he said. That smaller committee is composed of representatives of the Casper Area Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Development Authority, the Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Natrona County, the Casper Area Economic and Development Alliance, and the City of Casper.
So far, the city would contribute up to $157,300. Other contributors are the Downtown Development Authority — $7,000; The Casper Area Economic Development Alliance — $15,000; the Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau — $50,000. The DDA receives its funding from the city and CAEDA receives city funding. The Chamber of Commerce would donate office space, access to clerical staff and meeting rooms that may affect the total cost. The CACVB is the marketing arm of the Natrona County Travel and Tourism Council, which receives revenues from the 4 percent lodging tax.
Of the responses to the request for proposals, the committee with CAEDA's lead, selected Forte Events and recommended the city craft a contract and hire it, McDonald said.
Eclipse Fest will start Aug. 17 to the event itself on Aug. 21, and will require coordination of transportation, emergency services, camping and the like to accommodate the crowds.
Forte Events is up for the job, its CEO Tami Forero said Wednesday. "It's basically all the pre-planning, (working with) the community, putting everything together, and being on-site to execute it."
Although the plans are in development, Forero said Eclipse Fest will have events each day including evening concerts, family activities, academic lectures and other educational programs.
Forte Events would be working with city and county agencies to coordinate traffic control, transportation, emergency services and similar event infrastructure, she said.
"We've done a lot of events like this," Forero said.
They have included working with other event organizers to conduct the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Air and Sea show many years ago, and an arts and crafts fair in Boca Raton, Fla., she said.
But Forte Events' website does not mention these or similar major events with tens of thousands of people. The website touts its planning abilities for weddings, corporate retreats, events for nonprofit organizations, and celebrations of life.
On Tuesday, restaurant owner and former Parkway Plaza owner Pat Sweeney questioned what the city and other contributors would receive for their money, especially since the local governments will still need to pay for infrastructure, public transportation and emergency services and other infrastructure.
Sweeney also said he spoke with two local business people who said they were either unaware of the requests for proposal to run Eclipse Fest or were already doing some of what Forte Events would do such as creating a website.