Rainy seafood festival hurts pockets of Bryan Co. non-profits

Rainy seafood festival hurts pockets of Bryan Co. non-profits

RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - The calm after the storm rings true at J.F. Gregory Park in Richmond Hill, following the annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival this weekend.

Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber Treasurer Marc Ray said having to cancel Saturday’s event was difficult because they plan all year for this event. Meanwhile, some nonprofit organizations took a major hit.

"Saturday was brutal. We were down almost $2,000. Overall, we were down a total of about $2,100 total for Friday and Saturday both,” JROTC Booster Club President James Lay said.

Lay said his organization was just one of many that took a major hit from Saturday's event cancellations at the seafood festival. He says every year they park cars for people attending the festival.

They usually go until 9 or 10 at night and this year they had to call it quits at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

"It's hard for us just for the fact that we don't get any funding and we have to make our own funding and we have to buy our own supplies and have to buy everything,” Lay said.

"Typically, on a Saturday, those are our biggest moneymaker days. We were down about 70 percent as the park closed at 6 p.m. as most people know. However, on Sunday, we had record sales, so we were up the highest we've ever been on Sunday so overall, we were only down about 20 percent,” Troop 400 Boy Scouts committee member Stephanie Falls said.

Falls said her organization, too, along with their crowd-pleasing peach cobbler took a big hit in revenue as well.

She said though it's not just about the money, every penny counts when trying to continue to keep their costs low, funding trips for their scouts, providing scholarships and uniforms.

Ray said there's a lot of time and effort that goes into the festival and it was a big deal to cancel on Saturday.

"For many of our vendors and patrons, it's an opportunity to come back and give back to the community. Our community partners are non-profits who use this event to generate most of their funds for the entire year,” Ray said

He said next year they are looking to make some changes, in order to avoid such a big loss to the community.

"Everything we do for the chamber is to be able to give back, [which} means we won’t be able to be as generous as we have been in the past,” Ray said. “We’re looking at the possibility of potentially moving it into November because as you’ll recall, we’ve dealt with two hurricanes or threats of hurricanes and this year we had a washout.”

Ray said they will be back bigger and better next year.

They are also looking to work out an agreement for performers to come back at some point who couldn’t perform.

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