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Profits soar for Hog Happenin’

Staff Writer

Lincolnton’s 2014 Hog Happenin’ festival saw a significant rise in profits compared to the 2013 event.
The Downtown Development Association of Lincolnton, which annually hosts the two-day barbeque and motorcycle event, released 2013 and 2014 financial records of the event to the Times-News after the board’s July meeting.
According to the Downtown Development Association’s financial records, Hog Happenin’ 2013 produced a gross profit of $62,390.41. However, with expenditures totaling to $59,019.54, the festival’s net income was $3,370.87, less than 50 percent of the anticipated net income.
The 2014 Hog Happenin’ event, however, produced a net income nearly sevenfold to the year prior. With a gross profit of $71,774 and a total expense of $50,287.01, the event produced a net income of $21,486.99, almost double the amount anticipated in the budget.
Downtown Development Association chair Brooke Sherrill said she believes several factors played a role in the event’s success this year.
“In previous years, the budget for Hog Happenin’ was not accurately conveyed to the entire committee, and there were not as many checks and balances to make sure people were operating within budget,” she explained. “And in the years prior to 2013, Hog Happenin’ made a nice enough profit to help with all the other events so no one picked the budget apart and was as concerned with it, because it was the same thing year after year (regarding profit and expenses).”
Sherrill said the committee’s decision to bring on a legacy band for the 2013 event triggered some unanticipated changes.
“The event got larger, expenses increased and the rain came and decreased a lot of our profits,” she said. “It was a learning experience, and fortunately, it brought our attention to the budget, and we made it a priority this year to bring our profits back up by analyzing every minor detail until it made everyone crazy. We looked at each cost and did some brainstorming to see if we could cut the expense or change vendors to make things cheaper.”
In order to offset some of the costs, the committee worked to develop new sponsorship opportunities, altered merchandise sales, opted for a cheaper legacy band and designed a scavenger hunt — decisions Sherrill believes drew a larger crowd of participants and sponsors for the 2014 event.
“The scavenger hunt was a win-win for everyone,” she said. “The participants had fun, and the businesses got cheap advertisement. We drove traffic to all of these small businesses, and we brought in people from outside of our county to see how cute our town is.”
Sherrill added that the profits made from the scavenger hunt assisted the committee by offsetting certain costs, such as the golf carts, that the city traditionally pays for.
“We paid extreme attention to detail, and we cut corners where we could without jeopardizing the integrity of the event,” she said. “We did not have any clue that we would have been this successful in one year, but the committee deserves 90 percent of the credit, because they worked extremely hard, and I am so proud of every one of them for their long hours, great ideas and dedication.”
Sherrill said the profits from Hog Happenin’ have been used to fund other DDA activities.
“Hog Happenin’ has been the single event that has made the DDA any money in several years,” she said. “We have used the profits from that event to fund many of the other services, projects and events that we offer.”
One of these events includes Alive After Five, a mini-series of beach music concerts held once a month in downtown Lincolnton during the summer season.
“(Alive After Five) is one of the events that we supplement with our Hog Happenin’ funds because that is a service to the community that we feel is beneficial to merchants and enjoyed by residents,” Sherrill said.
She said the concert mini-series is currently in a rebuilding phase, and that the Downtown Development Association hopes to have Alive After Five bringing a positive cash flow in the next few years.
Sherrill has already met with Lincolnton’s City Council members to discuss possible opportunities for Hog Happenin’ 2015 to have nationally recognized sponsors. During the City Council’s July 10 meeting, Sherrill explained that three corporate sponsors with national recognition have expressed interest in sponsoring next year’s Hog Happenin’ event. She explained that because these companies generally budget a year in advance, the DDA needed to confirm with City Council that that even would indeed take place in 2015.
While a rising upward trend in net income would be ideal, Sherrill does not foresee a significant spike in income for Hog Happenin’ 2015.
“We would be extremely pleased if we just stayed consistent,” she said. “A lot of that will depend on the band we choose, and if the city is willing to provide us with monies from the occupancy tax for the band again this (coming) year.”
While the committee does plan to attract national corporate sponsors for the 2015 event, they feel a spike in attendees may take a few years.
“We think that it will take a year or two to see an increase in attendees due to national attention, but hopefully we’ll be wrong and see direct effects in 2015,” Sherill said. “We are looking forward to another great year.”

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