An attempt by the 250th anniversary committee to answer some questions about their plans—as well as ask for money—left the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commission with even more questions than they started with.
Noel Turner, the treasurer for the 250th anniversary committee, which is now a 501c3 nonprofit, came to discuss their branding and marketing plan for the next five years.
“It seems like we’re doing this awfully early but we’ve got a lot to do,” Turner said.
Turner said he was also seeking a $30,000 contribution from the tourist commission, which he said would help make an initial payment to Durham Brand and Company. The Covington-based design firm created Harrodsburg’s new logo, which the city adopted in July. They would handle all design work related to the anniversary as well as create a website, among other duties.
But that left the tourist commission’s board of directors with questions Turner couldn’t answer. The board voted in July to suspend their effort to install wayfinding signs—which has cost $76,000 and taken six years to develop so far—in order to include the new logo. But it was unclear if the 250th anniversary committee owned the rights to the logo. A contract between the committee and Durham has not been signed yet.
“Do we have permission to use that, yes or no?” asked Karen P. Hackett, the executive director for the tourist commission.
Turner said the 250th anniversary committee had already paid Durham $7,500.
“Until we pay him the whole $30,000, we should not be using the logo,” Turner said. “Once we pay the $30,000 the logo is completely released for us.”
In addition, Turner said city leaders were looking for the tourist commission to make an even bigger contribution of at least $500,000 spread over the next five years.
While the tourist commission has been accused by some in the community of hoarding money, they have committed $100,000 towards repairs to Old Fort Harrod State Park in order to get ready for the anniversary. That work is scheduled to begin in November. In addition to handing over $300,000 collected from restaurant and lodging taxes to the City of Harrodsburg, the tourist commission also spends more than $200,000 marketing tourism in Mercer County every year.
Turner said the 250th anniversary committee was not asking the tourist commission to reduce advertising. He insisted they would be enhancing the tourist commission’s marketing efforts.
“This is putting money in our community to grow our community,” he said.
Chuck Dedman, the owner of the Beaumont Inn, said Turner had been placed “in a very difficult position” but said he was uncomfortable with the funding request.
“They’re asking for $30,000, and there doesn’t seem like there’s a definitive plan,” he said.
Dedman, who helped plan Kentucky’s bicentennial celebration back in 1992, said the 250th committee was putting the cart before the horse. He said asking the tourist commission to slash their advertising budget in half for the next four years is “a big ask.”
Local realtor Mike Inman, who serves as vice-chair of the tourist commission board or directors, told Turner they would take the matter under advisement.
“It may sound simple to you, but we’ve found nothing is simple when it comes to tourism,” Inman said.
Read the rest of this story in the new issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.