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Chamber: festival expenses are not federally funded


Lee Wilder, of Yuma, Arizona, watches the fireworks on Grand Coulee Dam July 4. Wilder said coming back to the dam, which he visited 25 years ago, was on his bucket list and well worth the trip. - Scott Hunter photo

As the local chamber of commerce got ready to host thousands of people in the area to its annual Festival of America last Friday and Saturday, members became aware of misperceptions among the public in general of just how those festivities are funded.

As chamber members picked up fireworks donation cans from various public countertops, comments indicated that many people assume the whole thing is funded by the federal government.

Not so, hence the attempt to solicit small donations that brought in a total of $72.77 over the previous six weeks.

The Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce laid out its festival budget to help people to understand the process.

"Not a dime of this is paid for by the Bureau of Reclamation," noted chamber Executive Director Peggy Nevsimal, but they do waive a $250 fee because its a non-profit chamber.

Fireworks are expensive. Nevsimal said most fireworks companies won't do a show for less than $10,000, and both Soap Lake and Wenatchee cancelled their annual shows this year.

The festival takes in money only from fees it collects from vendors in the park below the Visitor Center, about $3,450.

The chamber also gets support from hotel/motel tax funds from the three local cities that collect it and from member donors and sponsors, which are generally applied to its tourism efforts.

The Fourth of July festival, designed to draw tourists and make outside areas aware of the Grand Coulee Dam destination, is the chamber's largest tourist-drawing festival.

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