GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Tourist Development Council (TDC) unanimously approved a grant of $18,000 for the Inspire National Dance Competition to host its annual competition on April 12-14 at the …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Tourist Development Council (TDC) unanimously approved a grant of $18,000 for the Inspire National Dance Competition to host its annual competition on April 12-14 at the Thrasher-Horne Center. The grant will pay Inspire’s full requested amount.
The organization, which also hosted an event at the venue earlier this year, sought financial assistance to offset venue rental costs, which totaled approximately $64,000.
The aim of the sports event grant is to encourage tourism to Clay County. Inspire’s application was based on metrics such as the ability to expand tourism, feasibility and quality of the proposed event.
Before the full amount was awarded, Caroline Everill, Tourism Program Manager, suggested that the Inspire National Dance Competition receive 85% of the requested funds, totaling $15,300. Board member Kimberly Morgan dissented, praising the substantial economic impact that would be generated.
“This is a big deal. They bring room nights, and the mothers spend a significant amount (of money) while they’re here. It’s a legitimate boon for the local economy,” she said.
Inspire’s Event Coordinator, EmmaLeigh Skinner said dancers travel from as far as Georgia and South Carolina to participate in the Orange Park event, which is one of 31 hosted by the organization each year. “We bring visitors from all over the place. Our dancers attend with their parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Everyone wants to come see their kiddos dance,” she said.
Inspire’s latest competition incurred $64,000 in venue rental costs. Contestants and their families often travel across state lines and usually spend the whole weekend. “They stay Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, and even Sunday night, depending on how far they have to drive,” Skinner said.
Inspire already plans to return to Thrasher-Horne Center in 2025 and 2026. Many other dancing organizations are doing the same. “Thrasher-Horne has become a (premier destination) for dance competitions. So, March, April and into the summer, all of these dance groups are coming to (the Thrasher-Horne Center) and booking with us. Dance is the new thing,” she said.
While one TDC board member raised concerns about attracting a local audience, TDC Chairman Mike Cella embraced Inspire’s status as a national brand. “This group brings their own audience,” he said. Skinner said that the group has two studios in Orange Park, which would account for visitors within the county.
With a large stage, ample seating and plenty of dressing space in the adjacent Convention Center, Skinner said the location provides an ideally better space to host the Inspire National Dance Competition than the Prime F. Osborne III Convention Center in Jacksonville or any other location in Duval County. She said the venue was more recognizable among their dance studios traveling from out of state.
After the generous grant approval from the TDC, the Inspire National Dance Competition is poised to continue its tradition, bringing dance enthusiasts to the county from near and far, being a dazzling spectacle and an economic boon for the county once again.
The TDC also awarded grants to American Cornhole League ($7,500), Cattle at the Cove ($5,000) and MotoSurf ($30,000).