It was going to be a banner year for the Waldport Beachcomber Days festival. With a revitalized executive board and planning committee, this much-loved weekend event promised the fun, food, music and entertainment that has brought fans to this South Lincoln County location since 1957.
But a problem arose when Chavvahn Gade, president of the non-profit Beachcomber Days, received a telephone call from BMI, one of three US performance rights organizations or PROs, designated to collect royalties between music copyright holders and those who wish to use copyrighted works publicly.
Suddenly the best made plans went awry.
“The phone call from BMI was vague, but pointed,” Gade said. “They asked when we were going to pay the music licensing fee for the band. Apparently, businesses have to pay royalties to songwriters if you play their music publicly.”
Gade said the non-profit Beachcomber Days festival has never done this before. “Actually, we never heard about PROs,” she said. “The main PROs in the US are BMI, ASCAP and SECAP. Most bars and large restaurants know about the business of paying licensing fees. But now the PROs are targeting non-profits and communities who hold events like Beachcomber Days.”
The caller from BMI was unclear about the fees owed for a community event.
“As a committee, we decided we didn’t have the money or the knowledge,” Gade said. “We talked to a lot of people, but in the end, could not move forward.”
Sadly, Beachcomber Days was canceled for the first time in 62 years.
But, not really.
The cancellation announcement prompted public outcry from Brookings to the North Coast. Colleen Nickerson, director of the Waldport Heritage Museum and an executive board member of Beachcomber Days, called a public meeting to discuss the board’s decision. This meeting was followed by a larger public gathering where people rallied to support this beloved festival.
Then city recorder Rita Eckerman got involved. She did the research and contacted each PRO, negotiating an umbrella contract for payment of licensing fees under the City of Waldport as a municipality. This covered all city events, including Beachcomber Days, the 3rd of July fireworks, Crusin’ for Crab, the Christmas bridge walk and the farmers market. Approved by the City Council, the $1,100 licensing fees were paid by the City of Waldport.
Beachcomber Days was back on.
“Suddenly, people were offering their help and wanting to get involved,” Gade said. “Our sponsorships doubled.”
City recorder Rita Eckerman was declared the Parade Grand Marshal.
A contest was held at the high school to design a logo for this year’s poster. Maria Altamirano won with her “Legends of the Sea.”
Gade says the high school has played a substantial role in promoting the revitalized Beachcomber Days. This year’s Court is gender neutral; one of the three finalists is male, vying for the title of King versus Queen for the two female finalists. Each of the finalists were chosen based on their essay “Where will you be in the future?”, plus a GPA requirement and commitment to promote the weekend events via raffle ticket sales and volunteering. The winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship, the runners-up each receive $250.
The three Court finalists are: Brooklyn McElroy, Akasha Reich and Matthew Shepherd. In concert with the “Legends of the Sea” theme, they will all wear mer-person costumes for the parade.
The winner will be announced on Friday, June 14, during the kickoff ceremony at the Moose Lodge. It will feature a dinner, mayor’s proclamation and free music from 7 to 9 pm by the Moose Lodge’s house band.
Saturday’s events are expanded to include a new car and bike show managed by committee members. Trophies will be awarded to the top car and bike, top overall and people’s choice award.
Saturday’s highlight is the parade, which begins at noon, temporarily closing Highway 101. Gade says this year’s parade will be bigger than ever with 40 entries and more signing up daily. Trophies will be given to the Best in Show, Best Use of the Theme and Best Community Spirit.
More than 50 vendors will be set up on Highway 34, offering food, crafts, jewelry, clothing and artwork.
An expanded Kids Faire will include a talent show, soccer and basketball, treasure hunt and other fun.
Saturday evening features music by Rockfish, headliner band Creedence Revelation, the much-loved Fire Dancers and a beer garden.
Sunday kicks off at 12:30 pm with a pie-eating contest, slug races, frozen T-shirt contest, bed races and awards.
For more information, volunteer opportunities and a detailed schedule, go to www.beachcomberdays.com.