$500,000 donated in five years

Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Smithfield VA Events + many volunteers = lots of money


         By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Bacon and bourbon did more than taste good — the savory combo has also resulted in thousands of dollars for local charitable endeavors.

Smithfield VA Events last week gave out  $60,500 to 36 organizations based on revenues from Bacon Fest — one of three events the company organizes each year at Windsor Castle Park. 

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Recipients of $10,000 contributions were the Luter Family YMCA Giving Fund and Smithfield Music. Smaller donations ranged from $150 to $3,200 and were based on volunteer hours worked by participating organizations such as the Smithfield Lions Club and the Smithfield Rotary Club, said Smithfield VA Events President Randy Pack.

In the five years since the company has produced events, it has contributed $504,244 to local charities, Pack said. The town of Smithfield is also provided $5 per ticket, which is earmarked for the maintenance of the historic easement at Windsor Castle Park, Pack said. The town donation alone has totaled $63,500 over the past five years. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Donations are made of one of two ways — an organization can apply for a $10,000 donation or provide volunteer hours.

Organizations that apply for the $10,000 donation are scored by the corporation’s directors and officers, or committee, based on whether or not the money stays in Isle of Wight County, the strength of the organization’s plan or vision, as well as whether or not it was a past recipient. Those organizations also provide volunteers on the day of the event.

Past $10,000 recipients, 29 in all, have included Smithfield Music, the 1750 Courthouse, the Isle of Wight County Education Foundation, the Windsor Castle Foundation, the Gwaltney Frontier Farm and the Wakefield 4-H Center, said Pack.

The volunteer network that provides labor for the three events each year is impressive. Organizations that choose to provide volunteer hours sign in and out during the event and a hourly amount is determined based on how successful the event was, but it ranges around $20 an hour, Pack said. And local clubs and organizations are eager to participate as a way of making money for their groups.

The recent Bacon Fest, which drew 3,000 visitors, used 2,300 volunteer hours, he added. At the $20 rate, that’s $46,000 to local clubs for the work they did during the festival.

Larry Saint with the Smithfield Rotary Club, has participated in the festivals for the past four years. Saint said the donations from the events help fund the club’s programs, such as maintaining Evergreen Cemetery, two scholarships and supporting Boy Scout Troop 3. Of the club’s 23 members, about half volunteer their time at the festivals.

“It’s an important part of our club … it’s hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun,” said Saint, adding that the events could not be executed without the help of many clubs and individuals.

“There’s no one club that can do it, it’s the whole community,” he said.

The officers and directors, or committee as it is commonly referred to, of Smithfield VA Events, consists of Pack, Amy Musick, Jim Abicht, Terry Rhinier and Judy Winslow, according to the company’s filing with the State Corporation Commission. 

In addition to being president of Smithfield VA Events, Pack is also on the Smithfield Town Council and part owner of Smithfield Station. Musick is the director of parks and recreation for the town of Smithfield, Winslow is the Isle of Wight County director of tourism and Rhinier is an employee of that department. Abicht owns the Smithfield Christmas Store and is the founder of Smithfield Music, a non-profit that promotes music education in Isle of Wight County.

Pack said Smithfield VA Events applied for non-profit status Sept. 30 so that it can get tax-exempt status on items it purchases. Smithfield VA Events originally became a corporation because that was easier to obtain than non-profit status, he said.

While the officers and directors receive no money from Smithfield VA Events, the company does have two individuals who work on a contractor basis and are paid, Pack said.

The paid contractors are necessary to coordinate the enormous amount of details that it takes to put on a high-class event, Pack said.

The events have been hugely successful. Tickets sell out quickly, with the record being one hour and 15 minutes for the Wine and Brew Fest earlier this year, Pack said.

As each fest features a different type of alcoholic beverage — bourbon, Bloody Mary’s, beer and wine — Pack said the volunteers are trained to spot and deal with those who become intoxicated. Volunteers also cannot serve those who are intoxicated, and monitors are patrolling throughout the events as an extra set of eyes. Tysinger provides vans to ferry fest-goers to downtown, nearby hotels or as far as Founders Pointe or Gatling Pointe as part of its sponsorship, Pack said.

Smithfield VA Events also pays Smithfield police and public works personnel to work the events.

Pack said the fest is a boon to local business, and the Bacon Fest resulted in the rental of 176 hotel rooms in town — mostly split between Smithfield Station, the Hampton Inn and Smithfield Inn, Pack said.

Fest-goers are also encouraged to dine downtown at local restaurants, he added.

Given the number of people who attend the events, along with the alcohol, Pack said they’re surprised there haven’t been more problems.

Sometimes the gauge of success is how many cars remain parked overnight at Windsor Castle Park, he said.

Despite being co-owner of Smithfield Station and on the town council, Pack doesn’t see a conflict. The events help the community and local businesses generally, he said.

“There’s no personal gain from it” for any of the oversight committee, he said.

Recipients of $10,000 awards in 2017 will be the Genieve Shelter, the Smithfield Recreation Association, the Smithfield High School Band Boosters, C.H.I.P.S., the Smithfield Rotary Club, the Windsor Castle Park Foundation (to finish the playscape) and Mission of Hope.

Up next is BOB Fest — which stands for Bloody Mary’s, oysters, barbecue and Brunswick stew. It will be held this year on Jan. 14. The event also includes an 8K “Chilly BOB road race.” The Wine and Brew Fest, featuring Virginia wines and craft brews is Saturday, April 8.

For information, visit smithfieldvaevents.com


Applying for funds 

The deadline has passed to apply for a $10,000 donation through Smithfield VA Events for 2017, but details on how to do so are listed on the company’s website. Organizations are considered based on their contribution to Smithfield and Isle of Wight County community, or if located elsewhere, serve the local population. 

The organization must benefit the community as a whole and potential beneficiaries must provide an explanation on how the $10,000 would be used.

The application can be submitted online, and is followed up with additional questions, if necessary.

For more information, visit smithfieldvaevents.com  {/mprestriction}