Sponsors and fundraisers support Old Town events

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Old Town values its arts community to host events and festivals. However, planning these events bring budget configurations. Old Town events are organized by board member volunteers at The Old Town Commercial Association (OTCA).

The community plans year-round events with the goal to raise money and awareness, Jamie Schriner, president of the Old Town Commercial Association and executive director of Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, said over the phone.

The Commercial Association holds committee meetings to organize events throughout the year. By following a work plan, the committee starts planning in the beginning of the year to create steps, a budget and a schedule, she said.

“We don’t always do the best job in following it, but we try really hard,” she said.

Because the Association is a nonprofit, ran by volunteers, she said the organization has to make sure it does not go off budget.

Sponsors play a prominent role in supporting Old Town events.

“We try to seek out sponsors to help us pay for things,” she said. “We try to find donations. So, if somebody has a tent, we don’t have to pay for one. MessageMakers is really good about donating speakers and sound systems for us to use.”

Usually, sponsors are local businesses and insurance companies who want to be a pillar to the community, she said. Insurance companies want people to move to Lansing and see Old Town as a great recruitment tool.

“Some people are really big supporters of small businesses and Old Town is primarily small businesses,” she said. “(They have a) soft spot in their heart for small businesses. Some people are supporting the events because it’s a marketing tool themselves supporting our events.”

While sponsors relieve some financial needs, the Association also gains money through fundraising at events.

Depending on the event, money is raised by ticketing attendees, receiving donations at the entrance, paying to play games and purchasing food and beverages, she said.

“Some events like ScrapFest, where artists will make beautiful pieces of art out of scrap metal, will auction off the pieces of artwork and artists will get half, and the OTCA will get the other half of the profits,” she said.

From the help of the community and sponsors, Old Town is financially able to continue planning events to showcase the district.

Events bring people in from far away to shop at the retailers, Nancy Finegood said, executive director of Michigan Historic Preservation Network.

“I think it’s a great source of income for Old Town Main Street,” she said. “(Events are) our only source of income.”

Michele Denman, sales associate at Retail Therapy said events are good for tourism.

“We just had a Beards and Brews event at the end of February and the streets were packed,” she said. “There were so many people here for it. That, in turn, brought people into the stores down here.”

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