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Community grants pave way for tourism in Turlock
community grants pic
Izaiah and Izabelle Alkhas carry the Assyrian flag at the front of the parade during the 2016 Assyrian Festival celebration at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. - photo by Journal file photo

Each year there are countless events throughout the city that provide fun for Turlock residents and out-of-towners alike. From the Stanislaus County Fair to monster truck shows, these events draw people by the thousands to the city, creating impressive economic impact and visibility for Turlock.


The City of Turlock’s Community Events and Activities Program doles out grants which make many of these events possible, much to the delight of coordinators like Adrenna Alkhas, publicity coordinator for the Assyrian Festival. The festival is hosted by the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, and without funding from the City the event would be difficult to put on, said Alkhas.


“The grant helps tremendously because all of the other funding is coming from the church,” she said. “It doesn’t have that much money, so any help from the community is helpful.”


The grants come from the Transient Occupancy Tax that hotel guests pay when they stay in Turlock. In order to be considered for a grant, each event representative must present a pitch to the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission, where they detail how the event will potentially promote and support tourism while boosting the overall economy. Commissioners then score each event on a scale from zero to 100, and the results are sent to the City Council for action.


Having the Commissioners score the events to determine funding priority is a relatively new concept that Turlock adopted just two years ago. Previously, the Transient Occupancy Tax was allocated by the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau to the various entities requesting funds, but last year the City Council appointed the Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission to appraise the requests and pass on their recommendations, with the City Council making the final decisions.


The Assyrian Festival has received a grant from the City for two consecutive years, and is hoping for a third year of funding. In total, the festival has received $10,000 to date in order to help with promotion for the event. This year, Alkhas hopes that any funding received can be used to enhance the festival’s historical exhibit as well, which focuses on educating the community on Assyrian history.


While the festival is exciting for the people of Turlock, an estimated 10,000 attendees flock to the fairgrounds every year for the event from outside areas as well, including Los Angeles, San Jose and Arizona. While City money used for the event does promote the festival, it promotes Turlock as well, said Alkhas.


“It’s crucial for Turlock to provide these types of grants because the events that get these grants really promote Turlock in itself,” said Alkhas.  “It helps to make sure the community knows what is happening in Turlock. That’s vital for the success of the city.”


Since the money allocated for the community grants correlates directly with the amount of people that spend money on Turlock hotel rooms, the success of an event and how many people it attracts to the city essentially impacts the amount of funding community events will receive the following year. With so many Turlockers and visitors alike making their way to the Assyrian Festival annually, Alkhas sees the event continuing successfully into the future, especially thanks to the Community Activities and Events Program grants.


“I think the draw is immersing themselves in our culture, the different foods we have and educating themselves on who the Assyrian people are,” said Alkhas. “The draw is understanding who we are.”


This year, 15 events are requesting funding from the City through the program, and pitches were presented to PARC on April 12. There is $46,000 to be allocated to events that received a satisfactory score from PARC, and the City Council will determine who will get a grant at an upcoming meeting.