Taste of South Routt at risk

Economic Development Council considers going dormant

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— Struggling with participation from its members, the South Routt Economic Development Council is toying with the idea of going dormant or canceling the annual Taste of South Routt event, unless some new blood steps up.

"Maybe if we let it go for a year, or threaten to let it go, there will be some people who step up to put it on," EDC President Ken Montgomery said.

Bonfiglio Drug owner David Bonfiglio started the Taste of South Routt in 1997 as a way to advertise and get people interested in the restaurants in Oak Creek. The annual celebration, held in late June in Decker Park, has grown into a much-loved community event that locals look forward to. But it also remains good advertising, drawing as many as 1,000 people, Montgomery said.

"It's an important event, and it's a long-standing event," EDC Secretary Karen Tussey said. "So, it will be missed. But we can't do it anymore. We're business owners, we have a lot going on in our lives. That doesn't mean we don't want to do it. We're just tired; we need new help and new energy."

Although many South Routt businesspeople are willing to pay membership dues to the organization and donate door prizes or auction items to the Taste of South Routt, getting them to attend meetings or help plan and orchestrate events is another story, Tussey said.

"South Routt loves and enjoys the Taste of South Routt, but it's only four or five of us that do the whole event. We need some serious volunteers," Tussey said. "We need people in the administration tent; we need people for publicity; we need to set up and tear down throughout the day."

At the EDC's most recent meeting Monday, only four people were in attendance. The board set something of an ultimatum for the Taste of South Routt: Unless sufficient volunteers get involved by the EDC's next meeting March 30, the event will be canceled this year.

"It's the same people always doing it, and we're exhausted," she said. "We're not going to do the Taste of South Routt until some serious people step up to help us."

Even the EDC's board is struggling - all of the officers are term-limited, and the organization frequently fails to have a three-officer quorum show up for its monthly meetings, Tussey said.

"People just don't like to go to meetings and everything," Montgomery said. "They don't mind helping, but they don't like to sit through the rigmarole. A lot of them forget, unless you call and remind them."

"All orgs are having that hard problem. They can keep their memberships up, but to get them to do anything is kind of hard to do," Montgomery said. "They want to be a member, but they don't want to be involved."

If the EDC were to go dormant as an organization, it would cancel its monthly meetings and just have one or two meetings a year, to facilitate updating of the EDC's business directory and continue the $500 scholarship the organization awards annually to a graduating Soroco High School senior, Tussey said.

"We'd keep our 501(c)(3) in place, because that took us a lot of years to get," Tussey said.

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