Americarna boss rips into bars

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2014
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JONATHAN CAMERON
John Rae

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Outgoing Americarna boss John Rae has slammed bars in New Plymouth for cashing in on the event, but not supporting it.

He is stepping away from the car festival and passing it over to a charitable trust. Mr Rae said the four-day event was underfunded and he didn't know if the 2014 festival had broken even yet.

He believed the New Plymouth leg of the festival should be supported by the town's bars that filled their tills on Friday night during the street cruise.

Mr Rae said the bars would have had a marked increase in profit and should contribute 10 per cent of that increase to the festival.

Since the first Americarna in 2007 Mr Rae had approached every establishment in town, asking them to support the event.

Only Crowded House and Marinovichs had come on board this year, he said. Without funding and support from the bars the event would not be able to return.

"If there's no big event, then there's no big profit for the bars," he said.

Kymon Hill, co-owner of the Mayfair, Westbar, Stumble Inn and Butlers Reef said Americarna was one of the busiest weekends outside of an All Blacks test match.

"Every hospo business and accommodation business in town would have done very, very well from it," he said.

The owners of the conglomerate of bars had given money to Americarna previously, when the festival went out around the coast.

"Should everyone chip in 10 per cent every year? Well, I think they should all give something, but the likelihood is they won't."

Mr Hill called on the New Plymouth District Council to financially support events that benefit the economy.

"Surely it is up to the council to support the events because we need them to remain economically viable. But the council don't seem to want to support anything."

He suggested NPDC add on a targeted rate to the rates paid by business in town.

That way the extra money could be used to fund events they directly benefited from.

Doc Van Praagh, of Crowded House, said he would continue to support the event, should it come back to New Plymouth.

"It's important for the hospo industry and the town in general to have these events," he said.

Mr Van Praagh said his takings were up about 30 to 40 per cent on Friday and Saturday night, purely because of Americarna.

While he did not want a precedent of profit-sharing set for every event that came to town he believed more bars should contribute to Americarna.

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"It's up to them of course, but it is definitely worthwhile to keep Americarna in town."

Mr Rae said the charitable trust would have to raise $350,000 before May to secure the event for 2015.

He could not afford to continue to prop the festival up, he said, and his friends and family could not continue to take annual leave from their day jobs to run the costly festival for free.

- Taranaki Daily News

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