Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Tall Stacks attendance short of goal


Financial results not yet complete

BY LUCY MAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Attendance at this year's Tall Stacks was 22 percent lower than predicted, but organizers don't know yet whether that left Cincinnati's signature event with another debt.

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        “It's too early to tell” whether Tall Stacks broke even, said Karen Bender, the event's marketing director. “Not all the expenses are in, and not all the revenues are in. We did do an excellent job of holding down expenses, so that should help.”

        Preliminary figures released Monday show the big boat bash attracted 660,000 people over its five-day run, Oct. 13-17. That's lower than predictions of 850,000, and planners are blaming the event's rainy first day Wednesday and its soggy Sunday finale.

        “I think it's a weather issue,” said Lois Davis, chair of the Covington Tall Stacks committee. “When the weather's nice, it's packed.”

        A lower-than-projected turnout for the last Tall Stacks left the 1995 event $800,000 in debt. To pay it off, the Greater Cincinnati Tall Stacks Commission took out a loan to pay its bills, and then raised money to pay off the loans, Executive Director Rick Greiwe has said.

        The city of Cincinnati also forgave $200,000 owed to it after the commission promised to raise $600,000 for a National Steamboat Monument being planned for the riverfront. Mr. Greiwe said the commission met that fund-raising goal.

        For this year's festival, planners used more conservative attendance estimates and trimmed costs to try to make it easier to balance the event's $8.6 million budget.

       



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