Calama Council gives initial approval to tourism grants, new Fourth of July event

During Thursday’s Kalama City Council meeting, Emily Moore, a clerk, explains the plan for a new city-sponsored Fourth of July event.

KALAMA — The Kalama City Council on Thursday tentatively approved funding for several tourist attraction events, including a new city-sponsored Fourth of July celebration.

During the public hearing on the 2023 budget expenditures, city staff presented the tourism advisory committee’s recommendations for allocating Calama’s hotel/motel sales tax revenue to long-term and new events, as well as the city’s allowable expenses. According to state laws, hotel/motel sales tax revenue can only be used for projects that aid or sustain tourism.

After canceling events in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city saved about $140,000 and is expected to bring in about $55,000 next year, said Connie McMaster, clerk/treasurer.

The Calama Tourism Advisory Committee, established in 2019, reviews applications from event organizers in the fall and spring.

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The committee recommended that $15,720 be appropriated for a new Fourth of July event. The city plans to hold the celebration at the Westin Amphitheater at Kalama Harbor and include live music, local vendors, food trucks and a McMenamins beer garden, said Emily Moore, communications and records officer.

Although the event wasn’t Moore’s idea, once it was brought to her attention, she wanted to do it, she said Monday.

“We wanted another opportunity for our residents to stay here, spend money here and bring people in because the port has such beautiful property, so why not enjoy it?” she said. “We want to represent our community as best we can.”

Moore said the plan is to sell to American Cruise Line passengers if they will dock in Calama that day and to people outside a 50-mile radius to qualify for tourism financing.

Kalama aims to create a guide for event organizers as crowds grow

The event won’t feature a professional fireworks show, at least in 2023, because it’s expensive and many people already set off their own fireworks on the shore, Moore said.

“We’re trying to add to what’s going on instead of replacing or making people feel like we’re intruding on their good time,” City Administrator Adam Smee said. “Instead, we’re hoping to be able to expand it and eventually make it a one-day, weekend or multi-day event.”

First Annual Big Smoke at Little Kalama

Rob and Constance Kimmons of Lacey make a slab of pulled pork at Little Kalama’s first annual Big Smoke BBQ event at Haydu Park in June in Kalama. Calama City Council recently tentatively approved providing money for the event in 2023, among other things, through tourism grants.

Caitlin Metzger

The committee recommended that a total of $51,120 be approved, including:

• $2,500 for annual marketing expenses, including the town’s website, the Antique District sign on Interstate 5 and membership in the Cowlitz Economic Development Council.

• $2,700 for the Kalama Association of Artists and Creatives Mother’s Day and Fall Art Festivals.

• $4,000 for the Untouchables Car Show.

• $6,000 for the Kalama Heritage Festival.

• $10,000 for the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association competition.

The total also includes $10,200 to pay police and cover public events. A change in state law allows the city to cover staffing costs with tourism funding, whereas previously the event organizer had to assess those costs and pay the city with its own money, Smee said.

The council agreed to budget $25,000 of the funds for applications received in the spring.

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