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Fireworks will fly on first of July, not fourth


Faced with a mid-week holiday date for an expensive festival designed for tourists, the chamber of commerce is planning its “Festival of America” to start on June 30 this year, with the annual fireworks off the dam on Saturday, July 1.

Executive Director Peggy Nevsimal approached the Coulee Dam Town Council last Wednesday to broach the idea with the town that hosts the festival and helps fund it with a lodging tax charged on every motel night spent in the town.

Nevsimal said the chamber’s board of directors had struggled with the idea, preferring the traditional July 4 date for fireworks but recognizing the money meant to boost tourism would likely be spent mostly for locals if they were set off on Tuesday, July 4.

“The logic of it is that heads in beds mean money in the account,” Councilmember David Schmidt said, noting that the tourism tax is meant to increase tourism, thereby produce a returning stream of funds to help keep them coming.

When Mayor Greg Wilder polled the council, everyone present agreed that it made more sense to put on the June 30 – July 1 festival.

The discussion also turned to longer-term thinking, with Wilder proposing that perhaps the town should consider using the funds to help eliminate a major expense with an investment in equipment used to put it on. The stage and lighting is a major expense each year, typically more than the live entertainment itself.

Nevsimal said the chamber loses money on the festival each year, last year spending about $27,000 to bring in just $23,143.

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