The Guntersville City Council has approved $50,000 towards next year’s HydroFest boat races.
The board of directors for the Marshall County Convention & Visitors Bureau will meet Sept. 16 to vote on whether the boat races will return. But the city is on board if they vote yes. The money will come from the city’s tourism fund.
Kenny Shifflett, who is in line to chair next year’s races, spoke to the Council regarding HydroFest. He said this year’s event is estimated to have had a $2 million impact on the local economy. But he also said there are intangible benefits to hosting the boat races that are harder to put a figure on.
He said some people who came to HydroFest to see the boat races ended up falling in love with the city. Now they’re talking about moving here. A few are talking about locating businesses in the city.
Councilman Dink Myers said racer Jimmy Shane has talked about putting a shop in the area.
If the board approves bringing HydroFest back for a 3rd year, CVB president Katy Norton said, the event will be different from what we’ve seen the past 2 years.
It will be 2 days instead of 3. The Friday race day has not been as well attended as Saturday and Sunday, she said.
Also, the concerts will no longer be held. Norton said they noticed race goers often leaving for the day before the concerts got started.
“We also want our visitors to have time to see the city, go out to eat and things of that nature,” she said.
With a 2 day event, the small boats and the Jet Skis would return for racing in between the H1 Unlimited hydroplane racing. But the Grand Prix boats would not return, Norton said.
Councilman Dink Myers, the past boat race chairman, said he could make the motion to approve $50,000 towards HydroFest since he is no longer chairman. Councilman Carson Ray seconded. It passed unanimously.