Organizations show interest in Mayfest funding

Rich Orndorff

The town of Strasburg has received interest from two groups in the county regarding the reallocated $8,000 donation to Mayfest.

The Strasburg Chamber of Commerce and Jorge Gutierrez, chief executive officer of Business Management and Operations Consulting Group, have sent the town letters of intent that express interest in applying for the funding.

According to Chamber of Commerce President Rich Orndorff, the chamber notified the town of its intention to submit a proposal for the funding in May.

Town Manager Ryan Spitzer said on Wednesday that the town received a letter of intent from Gutierrez concerning the funds.

“In the latter part of June, he sent in a letter of intent that he’s willing to look at some type of festival for the town with the money,” Spitzer said, adding that he will be reaching out to Gutierrez this week.

Gutierrez, who is a member of both the Strasburg and Shenandoah County chambers, said he reached out to the town in May to apply for the money through his Strasburg-based organization Veterans Community Resources.

“This is an opportunity to give back to the community, and this was an opportunity that was presented to the business community,” Gutierrez said. “I’m raising my hand and saying, ‘I can do this.'”

Gutierrez said if he receives the funding, he would look to involve both the town and county chamber to create a “first-class event.”

Gutierrez said he approached Orndorff about his intentions to apply for the funding.

“I wanted to make sure that he knew what I was doing so that he wouldn’t feel that somebody was trying to take something away from the chamber,” he added.

Orndorff said, “We politely told Mr. Gutierrez … that our board had met and that we were going to pursue the potential Mayfest funding on our own, that we appreciated his interest, but we were not interested in partnering.”

Cheri Wright, executive director of the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is not interested in applying for the $8,000 or partnering with Gutierrez for the funding.

Wright said, “We’re in affluent support of the Strasburg chamber holding Mayfest, and … we’re here to support the Strasburg chamber.”

“We are hoping that the Strasburg chamber does get the funding to put on Mayfest,” she added. “It’s a wonderful community event that brings a lot of families together.”

The fate of the town’s longest-held festival has come into question since the reallocated donation was approved in June.

Orndorff has indicated that the chamber is looking to hold Mayfest in 2016 regardless of whether or not it receives the $8,000.

“We’re interested in being autonomous and continuing our festival in the way we have, with the organizations here in Strasburg,” Orndorff said.

Moving forward, the town has a number of options on the table for the $8,000.

Spitzer said, “The town needs to decide if we are willing to open up the process for other organizations to submit … or go ahead and release the money to the chamber for Mayfest.”

Gutierrez indicated that he would support the council’s decision in either case.

“If the council decides to give the $8,000 back to the chamber … I applaud it,” Gutierrez said. “I’m not here to compete with anyone, I am here to continue to build my brand and my reputation.”

If council decides to open up the process to interested parties, Spitzer said the chamber would have to apply and be considered along with any other interested organizations.

“If we start accepting applications … and we choose the chamber, [the line item] could still say Mayfest,” Spitzer said. “If we choose another organization, the line item would have to be changed.”

The council’s next meeting is a work session scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 31.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com