The closing of Ocean Boulevard at the start of June for the Carolina Country Music Festival prompted organizers of Coastal Uncorked to explore rescheduling the popular taste trolley.
At the January announcement of the country music concert, planned for June 5-7, promoters of the music festival as well as a city official shrugged off the possibility of the trolley being re-routed, saying that the city often shifts traffic around Ocean Boulevard during the summer.
Music festival promoters plan to block off Ocean Boulevard near the zipline for the concert. That event will coincide with the Coastal Uncorked Food, Wine, Beer & Spirits Festival, where, in past years, a trolley maneuvers around up to eight places along Ocean Boulevard to allow participants a chance to sample various food and beverages. The event is based at Plyler Park, which is two blocks from the concert.
Stephen Greene -- president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association, which hosts Coastal Uncorked’s food and wine festival -- said he won’t know about the taste trolley’s status until concert organizers determine which additional streets will be blocked off.
“We don’t know,” Greene said. “We’re working on those decisions as quickly as we possibly can.”
Greene said rescheduling the event to a different weekend is not completely out of the picture.
“I would tell you it’s probably not viable to do that weekend with that much closure,” Greene said. “Everything’s on the table and we’re just trying to figure out where we’re going to go from here. I just don’t know where that is yet.”
Organizers of both events have said their events were aimed at replacing the long-standing Sun Fun Festival, which had unofficially kicked off the summer season along the Grand Strand. The last Sun Fun Festival, which was traditionally celebrated the first weekend in June, occurred in 2011.
Greene said ticket sales for the food and wine festival typically go on sale in March, so a decision should be made soon. Coastal Uncorked started in 2009, and the trolleys have been a popular part of the festival. The Myrtle Beach hospitality association took over ownership and operation of the festival in late 2012.
“We had just run the taste trolley, for us, the first time last year in June. For us, Coastal Uncorked is a year-round event brand for us. So, from that perspective, moving that to a different time of year is not going to kill off everything. It just means we need to change our planning schedule.”
Bob Durkin, president of Full House Productions that is organizing the country concert, said he couldn’t speak to how the trolley would be impacted by his concert.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with that,” Durkin said at the Jan. 22 news conference. “I know we’re going to have as less of an impact on the city as possible. We’ll be here for set up the day before and we’ll be gone by Sunday night. We’ll try and make it as least as impactful on the city operationally and logistically.”
Voice mail messages to Full House Productions could not be left this week because of a full voice mail box.
Earlier this week, Myrtle Beach City Council approved a resolution affirming the city’s co-sponsorship of Coastal Uncorked for promotional purposes. It denied Greene’s request for $1,168 in in-kind services, which would have included the costs of hanging 22 banners and supplying barricades.
City Manager John Pedersen said the city is moving toward a philosophy of not giving in-kind services to special events that also receive accommodations tax money. The city is expected to give Coastal Uncorked $50,000 through an accommodations tax grant.
City Council approved a resolution to provide $57,289 in in-kind services for the Carolina Country Music Festival, which will be used to pay for police, EMS, parks and solid waste expenses.
The city initially was considering giving the music festival organizers a $35,000 grant that would have been used for radio marketing, but Pedersen said he no longer was recommending that route.
Greene said he should know more about the taste trolley once additional street closings are announced by the country music festival organizers and the city.
“We’re not saying that it’s going away,” Greene said. “We’re just saying that we might have to, with this new country music festival, look at whether or not it will be beneficial to reschedule to a different time to ensure that the transportation issues don’t impact that particular event.”
Staff Writer Maya T. Prabhu contributed to this report.