New opportunities for entertainment in AWAYSIS
A portable stage will not be available for the Great Lawn project when AWAYSIS is completed next spring in Storm Lake, but the concept is still on the drawing board for chamber of commerce stalwarts.
"Budget-wise, we are not quite ready to buy a stage, but we are continuing to give that project thought, and it is certainly in the longer-term future," Marilyn Monson, chamber director, says.
The portable stage would probably be a project of the Storm Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, but that group's budget is currently too tight to allow for such a purchase immediately, Monson said. Costs vary widely depending on the size, shape and amenities for such a stage, the group finds.
Members hope that donors or a corporate sponsor could help make the project a reality.
"A lot of times, to bring in the quality entertainment acts, they require certain stage specifications. We have the bandshell which works well in some instances, but what we lack is a venue for performances down in the AWAYSIS area," Monson said. "It would be wonderful to have concerts and events right on the lakefront."
The Convention and Visitors Bueau plans to utilize the new Great Lawn development to its fullest. "The potential is amazing there - you could do anything from a Renaissance fair to an Easter egg hunt," Monson said. Even without a stage, the site could be utilized for certain musical, acting and arts shows.
"We would be looking at anything from small community activities for children up to two and three day festivals," Monson said. "We would encourage corporate sponsorships to bring new large festivals to Storm Lake that could then become an annual part of our community's offerings."
As Project AWAYSIS nears completion, the mission of the Convention and Visitors Bureau will evolve. "It will be a whole new description for them. Hopefully, we will be able to add a paid position to help us market Storm Lake in addition to the great volunteers we already have."
The group has a small amount of funding from the hotel/motel tax revenues, which serves as "seed money" for various projects, but does not provide income of the scale needed for a project such as construction of a stage.
Still, the group feels music is important to the direction Storm Lake is taking. "Something about music just boosts the quality of life. We feel that we will be able to attract more major concerts and entertainment after AWAYSIS. We are not just looking to bring in tourists, but to add events and performances that our local residents will enjoy," Monson said.
Even with no money, the project will not be ignored. "We never put an idea away, we just keep looking at it from different angles and hope we can find a way," Monson said.
Meanwhile, the Bureau has just completed a new community brochure designed to attract visitors from outside the 70-mile radius Storm Lake has generally worked as an attraction. The fold-out brochure features a map of Storm Lake tourism attractions on one side, and a map of all of the county's attractions on the other, and will soon be featured in Welcome Centers statewide. "We are hoping to reach further out than we ever have, and highlight the quality of life that Storm Lake has to offer," Monson said.