Independence Rally lost $27,000 this year

With a huge task ahead
– a need to more than double its revenues during the next year
because of additional expenses – organizers of the Hollister
Independence Rally recently received more bad news: The 2003 event
lost $27,000.
Regardless, new Executive Director Bob Beals expressed optimism
about the 2004 rally.
With a huge task ahead – a need to more than double its revenues during the next year because of additional expenses – organizers of the Hollister Independence Rally recently received more bad news: The 2003 event lost $27,000.

Regardless, new Executive Director Bob Beals expressed optimism about the 2004 rally.

“It’s a lot of work, but I think we can do it,” Beals said Tuesday.

Whether the loss signals further hard times during the next few years for the Fourth of July motorcycle rally, Beals said: “I can’t see that far down the road right now.”

The loss in 2003 was at least the third consecutive year HIRC has either lost money or struggled to break even.

Last year, HIRC earned a slight profit. In 2001, it lost $58,000, according to Beals, who took over for former director Ellen Brown after she resigned in March. Meanwhile, the rally has remained afloat because of a reserve fund, he said.

“We’ve been up and down a little bit,” Beals said.

Beals said he could not obtain figures from pre-2001, and HIRC Finance Director Dave Ventura could not be reached for comment.

The necessity to more than double the customary $200,000 earned annually was recently brought on by city and state officials. With budget constraints, the jurisdictions will no longer provide free security to the event.

HIRC and city officials have already estimated receipts must increase by about $230,000. The city’s security staffing will cost $115,000 – as will the state’s, according to estimates.

Officials with the rally and the city are negotiating a new contract. Six weeks ago, the city terminated the previous deal, which was scheduled to expire in 2006.

Representing the city in those talks, Management Services Director Clay Lee had not yet heard Tuesday about HIRC’s 2003 losses. He confirmed the two sides were still working on a new contract, but declined comment about the rally’s finances.

The city’s main concern, he said, is Hollister’s recovery of losses from police overtime costs and other expenses.

“We (Hollister officials) are looking at a huge deficit next year,” Lee said. “I don’t mean to be cold or callous about it, but we have to look out for the best interests of the city.”

Hollister officials have shown interest in allowing the rally to expand its boundaries and increase fees charged to vendors – attempts to help HIRC gain profits. The rally earns most of its revenues from vendor fees and merchandise sales.

HIRC also held its annual donor luncheon Tuesday at the Ridgemark Golf and Country Club, where it awarded donations to area nonprofits; HIRC is also a nonprofit.

Last year, HIRC donated $25,000 – and combined with the Rotary Club gave out an additional $12,000 raked in from the service organization’s beer garden. The donations given out at the 2002 luncheon went to 27 benefactors.

On Monday, the Rotary-HIRC combined donations from the beer garden totaled $13,000, which was given out to 16 organizations. HIRC, however, did not hand out checks solely from itself, though Beals did say the rally has awarded $18,000 this year to nonprofits.

“We’re really excited about next year. We’ve got good things going, good entertainment,” said Beals, who also mentioned a traveling replica Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which will be placed on the lawn of the old Fremont School during the 2004 rally.

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