Pasco festivals get grants to help bring in tourists

New and old events hope to benefit

Pasco County - The Pasco Bug Jam started 24 years ago and is now the largest gathering of Volkswagen enthusiasts in the Southeast.

"This year's theme is red, white and blue, this bugs for you," said Bug Jam coordinator Carol Jeffares Hedman.

Hedman says more than 500 people from around the country bring their VWs to Dade City each year. And the event attracts thousands of spectators.

"People plan their vacation around they spend the whole weekend," said Hedman.

Bug Jam is just one several Pasco County events that receive county grants from the tourism tax.

There's also the Chasco Fiesta, The Pasco County Fair and The Cotee River Bike Fest.

This year county leaders are giving out even more money to the different events. Organizers must used that money to bring in more visitors from out of town.

"The purpose of tourism is not just tourism, it's economic development, so the more people that can be brought in to the area, the better the impact is for the citizens and the better it is for the hotel operators as well," said commissioner Jack Mariano.

Next month, Dade City will host it's first Savage Race. It's a 5-mile course featuring 21 boot camp style obstacles and replaces the Tough Mudder event that moved to Polk County. Pasco County will give event organizers up to $20,000 -- but that's only if those organizers  spend $80,000 of their own money.

Carol says the Bug Jam, set for November 11th, will use it's $11,800 grant to advertise on television, radio and in newspapers. "Even if you don't think you like Bugs, you'll be surprise, It's a really fun time for everybody.

Pasco County has a 2% tax on hotel stays so the more bugs you see driving around town in a couple of months -- the better.


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