The Tarrant Regional Water District will no longer host five community events and programs in the coming years, after committing to a narrowing of its services to the region to fit into district goals.
Oktoberfest, Fort Wurst, Sunday Funday, and Marine Creek Health Fair are all getting cut, according to a proposed budget for 2023 the Report obtained. District spokesperson Chad Lorance confirmed they will no longer host the events. The district also will no longer put money toward concessions and rentals at the Panther Island Pavilion.
The events brought in profits to the district in 2021 and 2022. In all, the district allocated $352,700 toward the events last year. The district’s 2022 budget anticipated bringing in $371,400 from the events.
Profits decreased between 2021 and 2022, though, the budget shows. The canceled events netted about $157,000 in 2021 and just $18,700 in 2022.
Another high-profile event is remaining on the district’s dime, but at a much lower cost. Fort Worth Fourth, the city’s annual fireworks show, was canceled only nine minutes into the festivities this year after a grass fire spread across the Trinity River levee. The district spent $70,000 on the fireworks display.
Next year, event goers may expect a pared down Fort Worth Fourth celebration. The district spent $372,500 on the event in 2022 — now, it plans to spend $180,000 in 2023. The Fort Worth Fire Department will release a post-incident analysis in the coming months, and consider making recommendations on how to improve the event’s safety, Chief Jim Davis said at a press conference July 5.
Tarrant Regional Water District offered a statement about the event’s cancellation.
“TRWD will undertake a recreation master plan in Fiscal Year 2023. Some expenses and events have been modified in the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget to increase alignment with the District’s mission, and to focus on the upcoming master plan,” the statement reads.
The cancellation of Oktoberfest has already generated controversy, including a lawsuit filed by former district employee Shanna Granger. The district initially approved Granger’s request to host Oktoberfest in 2022 after it announced it would no longer produce the event, but later rescinded the necessary permit. The future of the event in private hands remains up in the air.
The district is also canceling Oktoberfest’s corporate counterpart, Fort Wurst, which allows guests a sneak preview of the Oktoberfest events. The event is the “biggest fundraiser of the year for Panther Island Initiatives,” according to the Panther Island media release.
Last year, the event brought in $52,500 compared with $36,435 in 2021.
Other events are seeing an influx of cash. The district’s annual Trash Bash received $81,000 in funding in 2022. If approved, the 2023 budget will up that funding by 44%, for a total of $117,000. The Trash Bash is a multi-day event intended to encourage residents to clean up litter in their communities and ensure the waterways stay clean.
In total, the district will slash its spending on events and programming by about 38%, according to the proposed budget. The district has offered no details about the recreation master plan, which is expected to be implemented in 2023.
Clarification: this story has been updated to reflect confirmation by the district’s spokesperson that the events are being canceled.
Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter.
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