SALISBURY – As the Salisbury Marathon and National Folk Festival quickly approaches, officials with the City of Salisbury are asking Wicomico County for support.
Salisbury Mayor Jake Day came before the Wicomico County Council on Tuesday to present plans for two events scheduled to take place in Salisbury next year.
“We wanted to give you sort of some insight into these two rather large events coming to our community …,” he said. “We have a lot of planning ahead of us and a little bit behind us.”
On April 28, the city will host its first annual Salisbury Marathon, a 26.2-mile course that starts in the City Park and ends downtown on the Plaza.
Day said more than 200 participants have already registered for the races and proceeds will benefit Athletes Serving Athletes and Pinwheels for Protection.
From Sept. 7-9, the city will also host its first of three National Folk Festivals. The free event will feature seven stages with continuous performances, crafts, food and more.
Day said as part of the city’s agreement with the National Folk Festival, Salisbury will continue to host a festival of equal or larger size in perpetuity.
“The festival will draw between 100,000 and 200,000 attendees,” he said. “It starts on the low end and rises those three years. Then the legacy festivals often attract more people than that.”
While Day expects the festival to generate economic activity throughout the region, he said the event will come with costs.
“It is not free to put on but it is free to enter,” he said.
Day explained that the festival will cost $1.35 million. Approximately $720,000 will come from private sponsorships while $400,000 will come from earned income at the festival itself. Proceeds from the event will remain with the festival and will be managed by the Salisbury Arts and Entertainment District.
While the city will not receive any revenue from the event, Day said he expects the county to receive revenue in the form of room tax.
“There is certainly a great benefit there,” he said.
Day explained that the city had already entered into conversations with tourism departments in Wicomico County, Worcester County, Sussex County and Ocean City.
“Ultimately Ocean City drove the conversation because we need their hotel rooms and we need Sussex County’s hotel rooms,” he said.
Councilman Joe Holloway questioned the festival’s impact on nearby residents and businesses. He said large-scale events, like the NASCAR races in Dover, often drive locals away.
“I’m wondering what consideration is being given to the citizens …,” he said.
Caroline O’Hare, local manager for the National Folk Festival, assured the council incoming participants would not disrupt locals and would visit and lodge at other towns while in the area.
“It’s not a cramped festival,” she said. “There are a lot of people, but we have a lot of support from the entire Delmarva Peninsula.”
Council President John Cannon questioned the county’s participation in the two events. He asked what time or assistance would be required.
Day said the two events would require additional traffic control, public safety provisions and more.
“We would love and welcome the opportunity to present a united front and say we are all in this together,” he said, “the county, the city, the state, the business community, the philanthropic community.”
Cannon suggested a work session with city officials to further discuss what support the county could provide prior to the next budget cycle.