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Re-enactment organizers ask for more money

October 02, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Organizers of the 140th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam asked the Washington County Commissioners for more money Tuesday morning, saying a rainy forecast for the event's final day kept spectators away, which decreased revenue.

Robert Arch and Dennis Frye, co-chairmen of the event's organizing sponsor, the Antietam Commemoration Committee, said the estimated cost of the anniversary weekend was about $825,000 to $1 million.

The organizers didn't ask for a specific amount from the county, but said additional financial assistance will be needed to pay for the event. They said they will have more information once the total revenue is tallied in a few weeks.

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Arch and Frye asked that the additional money come from the county's hotel/motel tax.

Arch, who is also the county's planning director, said that if they end up with excess money, they will reimburse the county.

The County Commissioners said they will consider the request, but that they wanted to hold off on a decision until they see the final numbers.

The county has contributed $50,000 in hotel/motel tax funds toward the event, $25,000 in fiscal year 2002 and $25,000 in fiscal year 2003, Commissioner Bert Iseminger said Tuesday night.

He said he thinks the re-enactment organizers might ask for an additional $40,000 or $50,000.

"I don't think it should be a problem," he said. "I think we have additional money in that fund."

Arch said some of the expenditures include $17,380 in overtime for Washington County Sheriff's Department deputies who patrolled the event and $19,000 in staffing costs to personnel of fire and rescue companies who worked the re-enactment.

He said the Sept. 13 activities attracted about 10,000 people, between 35,000 and 40,000 attended on Sept. 14 but just 5,000 attended on Sept. 15.

Arch said the wet forecast on Sept. 15, which called for as much as 6 inches of rain, kept away as many as 15,000 spectators. He said the rain ended up being light and the weather cleared up in the afternoon.

"It actually ended up being a very nice day," he said.

Frye said organizers wouldn't be asking for the additional funding if more people attended on Sept. 15.

The anniversary weekend attracted about 13,000 re-enactors from across the country and international media coverage.

The event had 42 sponsors, with donations reaching more than $250,000, Frye said.

Ben Hart, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said people spent about $1.5 million to $2 million in the county during the three-day event.

"Certainly that was a wonderful event for the community," Iseminger said. "It was nothing but a positive for the county."

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