A proposed western-themed festival, complete with a Friday night concert with a known country artist and a Saturday “international chili cook off” and dance was included in the 2016 list of plans for the Oakdale Travel and Visitors Bureau during its budget accomplishments and goals presentation to the Oakdale City Council on Monday night, Feb. 1.
Pam Dumas, OTVB administrator, said arrangements had been made with the Oakdale Rodeo Grounds to hold the event on Oct. 7 and 8 of this year.
“There will be a concert in the arena and I’m working on a big-time country artist, possibly even the Dixie Chicks or Scotty McCreery,” Dumas said, stating she was collaborating with local radio station, Kat Country, on a suitable entertainer.
Dumas said she hoped to attract people from “all over the country” for the chili cook-off since it would be named an “international” event.
The festival would also have western vendors, a mechanical bull, and a Saturday night dance. The local group, Gunpowder and Lace, has already been scheduled to perform.
The OTVB update was part of a four-person talk that outlined a few accomplishments, including a revamped website and Highway 120 billboard outside of town, but mostly centered on what the group had in its plans such as a visitors center, a pamphlet, increased advertising, along with the festival.
“A lot of these things are still in the works and will be collaborated on as we move on,” OTVB volunteer Barbara Torres said.
Volunteer Dianne Korupp stated there had been a 25 percent increase in Oakdale Travel Business Improvement District funds from lodging which trickled down to a 25 percent increase in OTVB funding.
The OTVB was designated by the city to carry out the BID’s business plan and receives an annual budget based on the 7 percent room tax charged by city motels on every room rented. Last year the OTVB had a $65,000 budget.
Korupp said she could not review any of the budget accounting items because she neglected to bring the budget with her to the meeting.
After the presentation, Dumas said she was operating with an initial $30,000 budget to put on the festival.
“Of course we’re going to sell tickets,” Dumas said, which would help cover costs. “I’m also seeking out sponsors for the festival too.”
When asked about appearance fees charged by named country artists and a budget that likely wouldn’t come close to the cost, Dumas stated, “The Dixie Chicks would probably be ‘pie in the sky’ expectations, but I’m seeing what KAT Country can do for us.”
Dumas said more discussion of the festival would occur on Feb. 3 when the OTVB met again.
The planned OTVB festival conflicts with the dates for the historic Riverbank Cheese and Wine Exposition that is slated for Oct. 8 and 9 and it is unknown if it was taken into consideration when OTVB officials selected the proposed dates and finalized the location with the rodeo grounds.
Oakdale City Councilman Tom Dunlop said he did not know how wise it was to plan an inaugural festival on the same weekend with another established competing event held so close to the city.
“It seemed to me that being able to bring in those named groups on their funding would be quite difficult,” Dunlop said. “The whole presentation seemed quite strange.”
Dunlop said he was “skeptical” of the OTVB given their past “track record.”
The four-term councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem brought up a 2015 OTVB pitch to change the city’s long-known “Cowboy Capital of the World” motto to “Pioneer Perfect” and 2014 plans for Oakdale to become “Farm Fresh California,” making it into an area known public market to attract outside visitors to the city.
“They have good people there that have the best intentions,” Dunlop said. “They have to prove themselves and they haven’t done that.”
Dunlop said that he noticed that the OTVB listed the Downtown Farmers Market as an accomplishment but they didn’t list it as one of their plans continuing forward.
“They don’t seem to be gelling with the other charities and service organizations,” Dunlop said, noting that they had Rotary Club Testicle Festival information listed wrong and didn’t mention the city’s Chocolate Festival as a notable event when promoting their proposed pamphlet.
“Who the heck knows what they’re doing?” Dunlop said. “They’re buying billboards.”