Commission denies grant due to alleged noncompliance
Despite a funding shortage of $5,000, the Scottish Tartan Festival committee says the event is still set for Saturday, April 6 in Minden.
"This a great festival – the only one like it in Louisiana," Scottish Society President Mike Peatree said. "A lot of people are not aware that this area has a lot of Irish and Scottish ancestry. Celebrating that, and remembering that history is something that is important to the clans, or families, and also to people who are interested in history or other cultures."
Peatree said the festival committee enjoys having the festival at Scotland Farms of Louisiana, which is located on LA 518, off US 79/Homer Road north/northeast of Minden.
"We love having it at Alan (Cameron)'s place because he has the great Highland cattle and a really great piece of property," Peatree said. "The next closest festival like it is in San Antonio, and they only have sheep and herding dogs – so the cows are a real neat feature at our festival.
"Because the committee wants to keep the festival in Minden, it was a real disappointment when Webster Parish Tourism denied our funding," Peatree continued. "However, we were told about the advertising grant and we hope to secure that. The last festival where tourism went all out with radio ads and advertising really helped promote the festival and we were grateful for that."
The committee, which is made of Scottish Society members from across north Louisiana, met at Dorcheat Seafood and Grill for a festival planning meeting last night.
Shelia Hoh, festival committee chairperson, agreed with Peatree, and said the loss of the grant will negatively impact the festival.
"The Scottish Tartan Festival is in dire peril," she said in an email to those concerned with the festival. "This grant has been the essential backbone of our festival funds for the past several years. Without the support of Webster Parish, our festival is in danger..."
Hoh said the frequent changes over the past three years to the grant application and requirements may be cause for confusion.
"This situation we are in is mostly caused by poor communication, " she said. "The frequent rule changes and late notice of our being denied funds is something we are disappointed with.
"I understand the reason we were denied the $5,000 grant was because a report after last year's festival was not turned in on time," Hoh continued. "I'm not sure how late we were, but I don't understand why they couldn't have said something then or at least sooner than now, with the festival happening in April. We have been planning the festival as if we were getting the grant, like we usually do. Learning we are not getting the grant so late in the planning process does hurt us."
According to the minutes of the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors and Commission, the Scottish Tartan Festival turned in receipts 26 days late and for that reason was denied funding.
January meeting minutes show that one other event committee was denied a grant because receipts were turned in late, while two entities were denied because they failed to turn in documentation that funds were appropriately spent.
The committee voted unanimously to remove the Scottish Tartan Festival, as well as others that did not meet guidelines.
Lynn Dorsey, Director of the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, said plans are still under way to support the festival, despite the Scottish Tartan festival being denied a grant.
"We will continue to promote this event, as we have every year," Dorsey said. "We have purchased advertisements in (several) publications. We have listed the event on numerous websites, including the state travel website and purchased radio advertising as we have each year. We are happy to support the event this year and in the future. We suggest they apply for an advertising grant this year."
Despite the setback, both parties say they are looking forward to the event.