Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 5, 2012

Changes in store for pork fest

Committee exploring new ideas for revenue.

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

Tipton — Despite concerns the annual Tipton County Pork Festival finished the year with a deficit, it now appears the 2012 version of the 44-year event broke about even.

Jason Henderson, who served as president of the festival committee, said Friday that although it was believed the event ended with a $12,000 deficit, the actual number will be a few thousand dollars in the red.

Because of rain during the 2011 and 2012 festivals, the committee depleted most of its reserve funds.

One of the topics of discussion is asking the city and county for some Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) revenues to offset expenses, he said.

Brett Curnutt, who was elected president of the committee, said the Pork Festival is the biggest economic development event in Tipton County.

“This is Indiana’s only pork festival,” he said. “Tipton County is known for the festival. We want to work with city and county officials to promote the festival through publicity and marketing.”

Curnutt said the festival is an economic development activity and could be an eligible expenditure for EDIT funds.

Henderson said committee members earlier discussed a number of options for future festivals, which always have been held on the Courthouse Square.

He said there was some discussion about moving the festival to the fairground because of room to expand in the future. Another option is the elimination of the food tent, where the inch-thick pork chops are served, in favor of a tent ringed with food vendors and one area providing the famous pork chops.

“There would still be a pork chop tent,” Henderson said. “But instead of bringing in tables and chairs, we would move park benches into the area.”

Henderson said the goal is still to raise enough money to pay for entertainment, utility costs and for overtime for Tipton city police officers to work security.

“The discussion centered around: Is it a festival that provides entertainment or a festival that promotes the community?” he said.

Curnutt said there always has been chatter about moving to the fairground after rain has impacted past festivals.

“I can’t imagine the advantages of moving the location would outweigh the disadvantages,” he said. “We have to modify the business plan to cover rain two of every three years. We need to curb our expenses and operate based on revenues.”

Curnutt said there has been discussion about expanding the food selection to include baby back ribs and the creation of a “Pork Court” exclusively for pork products.

Other suggestions included expanding the arts and crafts portion of the festival, and seeking sponsors to cover the cost of entertainment, which could include gospel music, he said.

Curnutt said the festival could be expanded to run from Thursday through Sunday, instead of ending on a Saturday. He said that would require two more days for cleanup after the festival.