Floyd Mayor: FloydFest uproar is much ado about nothing of substance

073112floydfest6A lengthy discussion of FloydFest at the regular meeting of Floyd Town Council Thursday night but — unlike the tone of the discussion at the county Board of Supervisors two days earlier — most of the comments were supportive of the 12-year-old festival that bears the town’s name and, according to Mayor Will Griffin, brings in a lot of money and attention to both the town and county.

Griffin also says the question of sales taxes on ticket sales is a non-issue because sales tax is not charged on tickets in Virginia.

“I’ve looked into that and it is not an issue that applies to this situation,” he said Friday.

A check of existing laws by Blue Ridge Muse shows Griffin — an accountant by profession — is correct.  In 2008, the Virginia Department of Taxation, in clarifying the question of sales taxes on tickets to entertainment events, issued order 08-11, which said:

The tax does not apply to sales of tickets, fees, charges, or voluntary contributions for admissions to places of amusement, entertainment, exhibition, display, or athletic contests, nor to charges made for participation in games or amusement activities.

Town council member Mike Patton, at the meeting, wondered if the issue has more to do with the tug of war between the county board and the school board than any real issues involving whether or not FloydFest is actually a Floyd event, a charge sometimes leveled at the event because it is held on a farm just across the line in Patrick County along with recent claims that the company that controls the event is registered at a Montgomery County address.

Griffin also said a observation at the town council suggested that if the emergency had involved the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention there would have been no questions raised about using Floyd County resources to jump in and help.

Griffin said he feels the failure of Across the Way Productions, the partnership of FloydFest founders Kris Hodges and Erika Johnson, to obtain a business license in the town of Floyd for the last two years was “an oversight, nothing more.”

“The bottom line is that FloydFest brings a lot of national attention and revenue to our town,” Griffin said.  “It’s an asset to the area.”

The mayor pointed out that many Floyd businesses reported large increases in business during FloydFest.  That feeling is echoed by several business owners, including Oddfellas Cantina co-owner Kerry Underwood, Floyd Express Mart owner Roger Hollandsworth and a corporate spokesman for Food Lion.

Griffin added that the Republic of Floyd had its best weekend since reopening.  Others reported a significant increase in business.

Parking and weather-related problems of this year’s FloydFest have dominated public and private discussions in the county over the last couple of weeks and the county board of supervisors is demanding a meeting with festival officials and documentation on revenue produced for the county and donations to charities.  The supervisors are also considering charging the festival a fee for each customer car parked on school and commerce center lots when the rain and mud forced closure of the lots near the event.

But more than one reader has asked that if the supervisors ctually have a right to demand a list of charitable contributions from any individual or private company.  Others want to know how the county can demand a parking fee after the festival made a deal with the school system for use of buses and drivers for transportation and promptly paid the bill, which resulted in a $9,000 profit to the school board.  The controversy has made the school so system that, on Friday, when the town and officials of the Town Jubilee, asked about the possibility of using the school auditorium for a planned concert that faced bad weather on Saturday, the response was that “this is not a good time to ask.”  The Jubilee decided to postpone the event.

And the beat goes on.

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9 thoughts on “Floyd Mayor: FloydFest uproar is much ado about nothing of substance”

  1. Nicely written! And Will did himself proud by stating the obvious. I’m glad he did say it though, because I thought the County Supervisors were a little out there in their reaching. I also wondered if it might be something to do with the School Board Vs. the Board of Supervisors? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
    Thanks for the article Doug, it was written very well.
    Russ Abbey

  2. Lets be really clear about the only thing the county officially has requested, that we be reimbursed at some level for the use of the property in the industrial park. Personally I feel that the public ( who are the owners of the property) should receive some sort of compensation which in my opinion could either be a check to the county or proof of donations to local charities. The school property and buses are controlled by the school board and the board of supervisors has not officially asked for any type of compensation for their use. Other individual board members may have different opinions and different objectives, I can not speak for them. As far as I’m concerned I’m only interested in being fair, a private business shouldn’t get free services from the county. On the other hand I definitely don’t want to get into position where local government is telling a private business where it should be doing business ect. This is a very simple matter of a small amount of money that has been blown way out of proportion due to a split in the community between those who like Floyd Fest and those who dislike it.

  3. What would “fair compensation” be for the use of a parking lot that would have been just sitting empty? I have a problem with retroactively charging a fee for something that was not agreed to beforehand. Is the annual craft fair charged a fee for the use of parking at the courthouse? As far as proof of donations to charity-that is a strange one. It sounds to me like telling someone, “I’m not calling you a liar, but——-.”

    Imagine that instead of a music festival that Floydfest was a 4 day Christian camping retreat with evangelists and gospel music. If the exact same situation happened with the weather and parking in this scenario would certain supervisors and other detractors be as upset and demadning to see proof of donations to charity? Would they still be complaining about the use of Floyd in the name?

    • I’m happy to answer several of your questions. First nothing was agreed to before hand including permission to use the property until the moment the property was needed. Second the courthouse and surrounding area is controlled by the judge, you would need to ask him about that. Third, lets be fair, if the gospel group presold parking passes then some of those funds would rightly go to the owner of the property especially if it was public property.
      I’m most likely the biggest advocate for Floyd Fest on our board. I enjoy it every year and plan on attending again. The idea of taking receipts to charities in place of paying the county was agreed to during my conversations with staff of Floyd Fest as a way of calming everyone down. Long story short everyone is getting too excited about a minor issue that should have sorted itself out before now. In the future we simply need an arrangement beforehand.

      • Thanks for answering Lauren. I am not overly excited about this issue. I am just not a fan of what I see as a misguided “screw you hippies” attitude I am seeing from some people in our community. Too many in Floyd County view tourism and tourists who come here as a negative thing. I think without the tourists Floyd wouldn’t be doing nearly as well as we are.

        I would also be fine with the county charging for parking or having a set policy for future events/situations like this, but I have never been a fan of government at any level changing laws or policies retroactively. Determining a “fair price” after the fact seems like it would be nearly impossible without some sort of mediator in my opinion.

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