Vendor fee for Watermelon Festival debated

Published 8:12 am Wednesday, December 22, 2010


MURFREESBORO, N.C.— It is yet to be seen if the Town of Murfreesboro will require vendors at the Watermelon Festival to obtain a special permit and pay a fee.

The Murfreesboro Town Council agreed to form a committee made up of town officials as well as members of the Watermelon Festival Committee to study the issue.

Requiring a permit for Watermelon Festival vendors has been a topic of discussion previously for the board, though no action has been taken.

Before their consensus to form the committee, Brenda Watson with the Murfreesboro Historical Association asked Murfreesboro Town Council to make a decision regarding the matter.

“One issue that has been brought up after the Watermelon Festival this last time was the fact that the vendors do not have a permit (from the town),” said Watson. “What I would like to request at this point is for council to take action today to get this resolved because shortly we will be sending out letters to the vendors for the 2011 Watermelon Festival.”

Watson said the Association has had a discussion about a town permit fee with Mayor John Hinton, Councilman Lloyd Hill and Town Administrator Lee Capps.

“My recommendation on this would be not to charge the craft vendors. I think they are a different lot than what the food vendors are; that we charge the food vendors a $10 fee for a special Watermelon Festival permit, that is designated as a special permit,” Watson said.

She continued by saying that the organization would collect the $10 fee like the health inspection fees, and remit them to the county.

Watson said she believed that would alleviate some of the “competition” problems the event has experienced between street vendors and vendors on the Watermelon Festival grounds.

Later in the meeting town officials discussed the matter.

The festival typically has approximately 15 food vendors.

After some discussion, Flowers said he had contacted some similar sized communities that hold festivals and the way each one handled it varied from charging vendors who have set up outside of the grounds a $100 fee while others licensed the vendors. Others charged a garbage fee to each vendor per day.

“It’s what you want to do, not what is any kind of protocol,” he said.

After further discussion, Capps suggested a committee be formed of two council members, two Watermelon Festival Committee members, Police Chief Darrell Rowe, Flowers and himself.