Irmo commission to discuss Okra Strut finances - - Columbia, South Carolina

Irmo commission to discuss Okra Strut finances


For more than 40 years, the Okra Strut has brought thousands of people to the town of Irmo. The fall festival is an annual Midlands tradition. But over the last few of years the festival has been struggling financially. Irmo Town Council members say the festival is not in the red, but it also hasn't made a profit over the last few years.

Monday night the Okra Strut Commission meets to discuss options to increase revenue for the 2015 festival. Irmo Council Members say there are several reasons why the festival hasn't been able to make a profit, but the main one is because they keep moving its location, which was an additional cost. 

While the Okra Strut has been in different locations over the last few years, the festival now has a permanent home at the new town park. Town. Council Member Barry Walker says he believes that will eventually help boost revenue. Walker says the town won't see that cost saving this year, but probably in the following years.

The new park is 14 acres and Walker says that will allow them to throw a bigger festival.

"We have a town of 13,000 residents," Walker says. "Out of those 13,000 residents, we draw in, at this last year's strut, 10,000 new visitors to the town. So we're doubling the size of our town in one night for people coming in to experience what Irmo has to offer, which is good music, good food, and good okra."

And while the festival itself hasn't made a profit, Councilman Walker says local businesses benefit from the crowd the Okra Strut draws every year. 

There are several other things the committee is considering including possibly raising ticket sales to 75 cents a ticket,  bringing in more sponsors and possibly soliciting the use of Richland County hospitality tax money.

"We're throwing money into the strut, but it's for the community," Walker says. "It's not because we're throwing money into a lost cause. We're making sure the strut is stable, the strut is profitable. It makes money and it brings in good welfare to the town. The Irmo Strut has been around for 41 years and it's going to be around for 41 more."

The committee also begins planning for the 2015 festival Monday night. The meeting starts at 6:15 at Irmo's Municipal Building.

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