By Jesse Wood
On Monday evening, the Boone Town Council unanimously approved a license agreement with Southern Appalachian Historical Association, producer of the “Horn in the West” drama and Hickory Ridge History Living Museum, through this year.
This means the show will go on.
In anticipation of the approval of this license last week, SAHA Vice Chair Greg Williams said, “We are excited. We’re making plans, selling sponsorships and hiring actors.”
New Town Manager John Ward said that this license agreement before the council was based on a SAHA’s previous license with a few minor changes and that he met with representatives of SAHA while drafting the agreement.
The license includes exclusive use of seven buildings (Tatum Cabin, Coffee House, Weaving House, WPA Cabin, Museum Store, Administration Building and Ticket Office), four additional structures (Wood Shed, Spring House, Stock Building, and Blacksmith Building) and six parking spaces in front of the administration building during daylight hours from Feb. 19 to Dec. 31.
From June 1 to Aug. 25, SAHA has exclusive use of these buildings – The Costume Shop “CAN;” The Main Dressing Room Building; Stage Area; Seating Area (amphitheater); Lighting Towers; Sound Production Stage Manager Booth; Prop Storage Building; Scene Dock – for the “Horn in the West” and “Children’s Show” performances. For two other periods of time before and after the June and August, SAHA has exclusive use of the costume shop, prop storage building, scene dock and organ building.
During the “Horn in the West” season from June 1 to Aug. 25, SAHA also has non-exclusive use of the smaller parking lot (near the recycling bins) on Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This last point did not sit well with members of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, who spoke up during public comment before the council eventually approved of the license agreement.
Matt Cooper, president of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, said that the smaller parking lot could fit about 52 parking spaces – 60 if the recycling bins were not located in the lot.
While grateful for use of the property for the market, Cooper said that revenue would decrease if customers of the farmers’ market couldn’t park in all of these parking spaces on Saturday morning. Stating that each spot is occupied for one hour, the average person spends $120 bucks and calculating the length of the season, Cooper estimated that the farmers would lose a combined $240,000 this coming year by not being able to have exclusive use of the smaller lot.
Cooper, as did another farmer vendor, said that revenue from the farmers market represents nearly the entire profit of local farmers that vend at the market.
Ward noted that by not granting the farmers’ market exclusive rights to that lower parking lot, the town could note in applications for grant funding to redevelop the Daniel Boone Park that this is a “multiuse” property that benefits more than just one entity.
Before the unanimous vote to approve the license agreement with SAHA as is, Mayor Andy Ball noted that council decided in an retreat on Monday morning that the Watauga County Farmers’ Market wouldn’t have to pay the $5,000 fee to utilize the property during the season.
Alluding to previous conflicts, before the town adopted its licensing policy, between Watauga County Farmers Market and SAHA, Councilwoman Jennifer Pena said, “This looks positive and is a good way to start the upcoming season for everybody.”