OSCODA – Although COVID-19 led to the cancellation of some previously scheduled activities, Oscoda Township will actually be welcoming a couple brand new events this summer.

In a unanimous vote at their latest meeting, the board of trustees approved a proposal from Blue Ribbon Events, to hold two different art shows in the community.

The first will be a open-air art market, slated for Saturday and Sunday, July 11-12, at Furtaw Field. The second, known as Flights on the Beach, is set for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16. It will be held on the Lake Street property at Oscoda Beach Park.

Superintendent Dave Schaeffer and Economic Improvement Director Todd Dickerson have been in talks about the shows for the last couple months, after they were approached by Danielle Lynch of Blue Ribbon Events.

Schaeffer pointed out that a lot of the traditional art activities have been disrupted, moved about or outright cancelled this year due to the pandemic. But, as virus restrictions continue to ease up, the open-air and Flights on the Beach events are a way to offer a couple different art shows where vendors will be selling their wares.

Dickerson also said at a recent Economic Improvement Committee (EIC) meeting that, with everything which had to be called off at the beginning of the summer, having somebody who is interested in filling this and bringing something new to the community is a good thing.

According to Schaeffer, Lynch’s Blue Ribbon Events is self-contained, meaning the business will be handling all of the parameter fencing, the setup and take down, portable restrooms, sanitizing stations, traffic/crowd control logistics and so on. In other words, the only thing needed from the township was approval for the land usage.

He further noted that Blue Ribbon Events will be paying the township $300 to utilize Furtaw Field during the first event, and $500 for use of the Lake Street property in August.

Dickerson has also said that Blue Ribbon Events will not be competing with any existing activities or organizations. Lynch noticed that Oscoda didn’t have anything planned for these dates, so she offered to bring in a couple events.

Schaeffer added that Lynch and the other artists she is involved with put on similar shows throughout the state. “She has recognized that Oscoda is an opportunity to be able to expand more shows.”

It was during the June 8 board meeting when Trustee Jim Baier asked if there is some monetary  reward in this for the Blue Ribbon organization, or if it’s all charitable.

Schaeffer answered that Blue Ribbon Events is an LLC, so it is a business.

Baier again asked how the entity profits. “What’s the formula? How do they benefit?”

Dickerson, who also sat in on the virtual meeting, explained that the business charges their vendors booth fees, which is how the revenue is collected.

Lynch participated in the meeting, as well, and shared that she takes on all of the expenses associated with promoting, marketing and anything else to get the word out about the event and the municipality in which she is hosting the show. Her basic, average out-of-pocket costs going into a show is approximately $5,000 to $7,000.

She said she brings in vendors which she feels are going to be viable, and she does profit from these events. “But the reason why I do this, that sets me apart from a lot of other people that are in this business, is I’m an artist, as well.”

Lynch says she has a vested interest in this, because many of her colleagues are people she has known for years, and who she calls friends and associates.

“And I’m doing it better than all the other promoters are doing it,” she continued. “That’s why people want me to do shows in their town.”

Baier said he thinks these types of activities are what the community needs – especially considering the cancellation of Art on the Beach, which typically would have been held at the end of June.

In her discussions with Dickerson and Schaeffer, Lynch said it was agreed that Oscoda is missing more of a presence on this coast as being a huge destination, compared to its neighboring cities. “And you have beautiful beach amenities and things to brag and rave about that tourists will come and visit – and they shouldn’t just be coming for summer. It can carry over into the fall and the winter months with your other events.”

She said that, currently, the township doesn’t have very many signature events. Therefore, it makes it prime for Oscoda, with one reason being the beach front. This brings in the customers who support art, dining out, going to breweries and wineries and those sorts of things. “That’s what they’re looking for. So, there is a wonderful opportunity to be able to start a partnership where you guys will get a benefit of it.”

Lynch also mentioned that the Flights on the Beach proposal includes a component regarding the creation of a separate grant fund, where Oscoda can have flights of art in the township that will be done every year, to add to the outside parks, beach fronts or downtown areas/destinations.

She said she’s not looking to take anything from the local businesses but, rather, is wanting to partner with the township and help bring people into the community. “Because then I’ll be able to do future events there.”

The grant fund was also touched on by Dickerson at a previous EIC meeting. He said the interesting part of this, and how it ties into the ongoing downtown strategies, is that those involved would like to arrange some sort of community art fund.

Just as an example, he said tickets could be sold during Flights on the Beach for wine tasting or micro-brewery tasting, in order to raise money.

As part of the downtown strategies, the EIC has been talking about where they would like to add some art, and what type of art they would want in order to help beautify the area.

According to Dickerson, Lynch is interested in using Flights on the Beach as some sort of fundraiser, specific to those strategies on art. “So, I think it’s got a lot of great synergy.”

More details on this and the open-air event will be shared in a future edition of this publication, as the dates draw closer.