An Evening on the Bridge: Luray’s Hometown Fundraiser

Our guest blogger is Luray Downtown Initiative (LDI) Executive Director Meredith Dees.  She is a Luray native and recently returned after a career experience in Denver, CO overseeing regional retail operations for a yoga brand. 

Any Main Street manager will tell you that as soon as they hear the words “road construction” or “street closures” they become uneasy. We have a large project that has loomed over downtown Luray for some time. The days are finally numbered when we will replace our distressed 70 year-old bridge (c. 1934) connecting East and West Main Street. The local economy is heavily impacted by tourism, so our small downtown needs to capitalize on every single car full of visitors and leave them with an uplifting, memorable experience.

How do we bring positive energy to the reality that we are closing down the streets for several months and host a successful, charitable fundraiser and bridge-honoring celebration all in one night?  The Evening on the Bridge idea was born.

This event was a cross between a farm-to-table soiree and a family-style community gathering. Two hundred tickets were sold out at $75 each; no small feat in a town this size (population 5,000). We hoped for 10 sponsors and ended up with 17, several had never sponsored us before and many from community members that just wanted to show support!

We seated 200 locals down the center of the 123 foot-long bridge. Luray-based caterers and bakeries provided dinner and desserts and all of the drinks were also local, including wine and beer, as well as a signature “1934” cocktail crafted by our own distillery. Big band music played in the background and lights were strung overhead to create the perfect setting.

We highlighted the new design and paid homage to the historic bridge with speakers and pictures. There was a live auction, including a donated original art piece of the bridge by a local artist that took top dollar. Overall, we raised more than $15,000 (net revenue!) for Main Street and proceeds will fund newly branded light pole banners.

The only question I have received since the event, “when can we do it again?” And I cannot wait!

See a video of the event here >>>

An Evening on the Bridge, Luray Downtown Initiative, November 5, 2017

 

 

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One-Stop Website for Virginia Grants

Governor McAuliffe held his first Grants Summit recently at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Virginia. The educational event was attended by more than 70 State Agencies who gathered to hear from experts on writing an effective grant application.

The summit highlighted the Virginia grants portal, provided tips on writing a successful grant application, and highlighted the importance of establishing long term partnerships. Grants are an essential part of the Commonwealth’s federal funding opportunities that help fund critical areas such as education, health, public safety, and community development.

“Acquiring grant funding is a key way for state government to maximize the services we offer to taxpayers within budgetary resources we have,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “Today’s summit brought together grant representatives from state agencies to share best practices and prepare to pursue every available financial opportunity wisely and aggressively.

Governor McAuliffe launched the Virginia Grants portal in September 2015 as a one-stop source for agencies to search for grant opportunities and to understand how federal tax dollars are being spent. The portal also provides information about which grants present opportunities for state and local governments as well as private businesses and organizations.  The website was developed as a way to foster collaboration among the state agencies and increase transparency.

 Learn More >>

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Putting events to work for your downtown district

Why do you do it?

That festival takes months of planning. The parade risks being rained out. There are suddenly four previously un-calendared community events on the same weekend as the chili cook-off; the band shows up late; and the vendors haven’t brought enough change.

Events can be a real headache. But you still put them on. Why? In the Summer 2010 edition of the Virginia Main Street Monitor, we dare you to ask yourself that question.  Why?  We’ll also help you answer it.

The technical brief features tips, strategies, and examples from Virginia Main Street communities.  Download it today and share it with your board and promotions committee members.