Stone County BBQ and Blues

The Stone County Economic Development Partnership Board of Directors voted at its Monday meeting to move forward with the 2019 BBQ and Blues Festival.

The festival’s survival had come into question at last month’s meeting when Executive Director Betsy Rowell told the board it was not self supporting and would require a subsidy in order to remain solvent.

On Monday, Rowell told the board that $2,500 had already been committed to advertising and that the Chamber Division had asked to go ahead with plans and requested a $5,000 subsidy.

Board member Jody Miles made the motion to subsidize the event with a caveat.

“I think we need to look at having another type of [Fall] festival but it’s too late to begin planning for this year,” he said. “I’d rather have something rather than nothing.”

Rowell said expenses would have to be cut and a new plan for the vending of food would have to be formulated.

“We have to do something with the food that is available that day,” she said.

The festival was originally conceived as a BBQ competition and the sanctioning body, the Barbecue Competitors Alliance, does not allow the competitors to sell food.

Not to mention most of the competitors do not have Health Department approval for the vending of food.

The festival has been held three times but was canceled in 2018 because of a temporary shutdown of the SCEDP while the partnership’s budget was being negotiated with the City of Wiggins and Stone County.

The event has been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 18-19.

In other business: the board heard from a representative of Wright, Ward and Hatten, a Gulfport accounting firm.

Chris Taylor told the board the audit for the previous fiscal year had no findings and was non-modified.

“It is the best report you can get,” Taylor said.

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