Feb. 12, 2014 — It’s been more than seven years since the last Carter County Summer Bash but the group had one more gift up their sleeve.
On Thursday, the Bash Committee – made up of members from the Carter County Fair Board and the Grayson Area Chamber of Commerce – presented the Carter County Community Fund with a check for $20,000.
“The Community Fund and the Bash have very similar goals,” Commercial Bank Vice President Mark Strother, who serves on both boards, told the Journal-Times. “The Community Fund will allow philanthropists to donate money that is specifically earmarked for local charities. And that was what the Bash did, as well.”
Strother served on the Bash Committee with Don Gibson, Jill York, Bob Caummisar, Steve Womack, Kim Flaugher, Jackie Clevenger, Cindy Gibson, Will Davis and Sam Perry.
“Steve Womack brought the idea to the Chamber during some informal discussions,” York said. “The Fair Board had the 501(c) 3 tax-exempt status to make the project possible. A few of us went to a similar event in West Virginia and then worked to improve on the concept.”
The first Carter County Bash was held in 2003. Members sold a limited number of tickets for chances to win major prizes like $10,000 cash, cars and ATVs. The group sold 10,000 tickets, each for $100 for a total of $1 million, in the first year.
Sadly, subsequent bashes were not as successful.
“The event ran its course, locally, and in the declining economy,” said Don Gibson, Bash Committee member and Fair Board vice president. “If we could sell every ticket every time, it could have gone on and on. At the 2006 event, we didn't know until the last second if we were going to make it or not.”
Gibson said his time with the Bash was well spent. The core group, which met every Thursday at 7 a.m., was happy with its accomplishments.
Over the four-year period, grants totaling more than $200,000 were awarded to local organizations. Little League back stops, walking trails, playground equipment, work on historical societies and community centers were among the many programs and projects the Bash supported.
Kentucky’s charitable gaming laws require that most of the proceeds go for prizes to those who play.
In addition, a small portion of the monies were put aside each year in order to kick off the Bash the following year.
When the time came to plan the 2007 Bash, the board agreed to take a break.
“We had lots of ideas for what we wanted to do with the remaining monies,” Strother said. “Lots of ideas were floated but never really fit.”
In December the Bash committee had one last meeting, and decided to distribute the funds.
In addition to the $20,000 gift to the Community Fund, the Bash Committee decided to split the remaining $162,721.24 between the Fair Board and the Chamber of Commerce.
“The Fair Board had the charitable gaming license with state,” Strother said. “The Chamber of Commerce had an office and a staff to handle the day-to-day operations.”
Chamber President Michelle Wilhoit was happy to receive just over $81,000 for the organization. She called the Bash “...the greatest concept for raising money for our community in the history of Carter County.”
The group has formed a committee to look into future investments for the Chamber.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those volunteers that offered their time, without compensation, to make the Summer Bash such a fabulous event for Carter County,” Wilhoit said. “No other event raised so much money for so many community projects. I think those who gave their time and energy organizing and working the Summer Bash should be commended for a job well done.”
The Fair Board will utilize the funds to make improvements to its facility west of Grayson.
“We are currently researching possible options for the next phase of improvements to the Fair Grounds,” said Fair Board President Will Davis. “Permanent water lines, bathrooms and showers are all things we want in the future. We haven't made a decision but we know we want to do something that will help whatever events are held there in the future.”
And with the distribution of the funds, the Carter County Summer Bash Committee disbanded.
“It's a bittersweet moment,” York said. “But we know that we raised the money to go toward good things in the community and that is exactly what is going to happen.”
Leeann Akers can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 474-5101.