Smithfield Herald

Grant application gets easier

The Johnston County Tourism Authority has adopted new guidelines for its Special Event Grants for 2013-14. The changes reflect an effort to streamline the application for event planners and reduce paperwork for the Johnston County Visitors Bureau staff.

“For over 20 years, the Visitors Bureau has supported events and festivals with marketing dollars to attract visitors to the county, and we continue to believe strongly in helping as many organizations as possible to build their attendance through marketing campaigns,” said Donna Bailey-Taylor, executive director of the Tourism Authority.

“We are proposing planners embrace partnering with visitor-industry businesses,” Bailey Taylor added. “We have reduced the amount of paperwork and focused less on number of attendees but more on generating overnight stays.”

The Special Projects Committee, chaired by Trish Stewart, had several meetings to discuss grant guidelines, and the committee wrote and revised the application. Highlights of the changes are below.

First, the Tourism Authority will accept applications throughout the year and approve them at its monthly meetings. Applications are due at least 90 days before the event and must include the date, a 25- to 50-word description, a photo, web link, press materials such as releases and the public phone number to be used by the Visitors Bureau on its events calendar.

Second, the number of applications per organization has gone from two to one; however, the amount available per grant has increased from $250 to $500. In the past, organizations would apply for two grants, and now they can receive the same amount with one application. All towns in Johnston man apply for one grant for any event that targets visitors from outside the county.

Third, major annual festivals may receive $1,000 and need only provide the marketing materials to the Visitors Bureau at least 90 days out but preferably six month before the event. The major annual festivals are Mule Days in Benson, the Cleveland community Strawberry Festival, Bentonville Battlefield’s anniversary event, Railroad Days in Selma, the Ham & Yam Festival in Smithfield and the Harvest Festival in Clayton. Organizers of these events will also be eligible for one additional $500 grant should they host other events during the year that target visitors from outside the county.

Although not a requirement to receive a grant, the Visitors Bureau is encouraging event planners to work with visitor-related businesses on such things as hotel packages, deals at restaurants and retail coupons. The Visitors Bureau staff plans to host a workshop that will allow event planners and businesses to discuss ways to partner.

The application for 2013-14 Special Event Grants is available online at Applications are for nonprofit organizations only and may be emailed to Angel Phillips at or mailed to the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, 235-A E. Market St., Smithfield, N.C. 27577.