By George Slaughter
The first event is the Katy Triathlon at Cane Island, set for September 23. The triathlon will be within the Katy city limits after previously being organized and staged at Firethorne, which sits outside the city limits in Fort Bend County.
The Katy City Council Monday night approved a tax $75,000 convention and tourism board occupancy tax grant to the club to help defray triathlon expenses. According to grant application paperwork filed with the city, approximately 1,600 people are expected to attend the triathlon.
The amount requested is a $57,000, or 317% increase, from the $18,000 requested last year. No grant was sought in 2016.
Ward A Council Member Janet Corte asked triathlon officials to explain the requested increase in tax grant money.
Lance LeCour, a triathlon co-chairman, told the council that the triathlon has an aggressive marketing budget. According to grant paperwork filed with the city, the triathlon will partner with HEB to increase its social media presence and with Cox Media, a preferred Google partner, to run digital marketing campaigns. Also, the triathlon will display digital banner ads on various trade publications to call attention to the event.
The marketing efforts will prominently feature the Katy city seal on its marketing paraphernalia.
LeCour said the triathlon will feature two new events this year. The first is a duathlon, which comprises a three-mile run, 15-mile bike ride, and another three-mile run. The second is an aquabike, which comprises a 500-meter swim and a 15-mile bike ride.
“We should be able to bring the heads and beds you’d expect,” LeCour said.
Net proceeds from the triathlon are provided to the Katy Rotary Fund, which in turn will provide a limited number of scholarships to graduates of Katy Independent School District high schools. Other awards are expected to be made to local charities serving Katy-area residents.
Triathlon treasurer Vicki Rao said that last year, approximately $27,500 in scholarship money was distributed between 14 students who graduated from Katy Independent School District high schools. She said 13 students received $2,000 each, and one student received $1,500.
The second event is the Katy Rice Festival, set for October 12-14 in downtown Katy, between 1st Street and 4th Street and Avenue A and Avenue D.
The Katy Area Chamber of Commerce organized and staged the event in recent years, where it was known as the Katy Rice Harvest Festival. This year, the city and the club are co-sponsoring the event.
The city council Monday night approved a $78,000 convention and tourism board occupancy tax grant for the city to pay for the event.
Festival attractions include arts and crafts for sale, children’s attractions and rides, live performances on two stages, food and beverage stations. According to grant application paperwork filed with the city, festival organizers said their goal “is to bring the festival back to its original form—a family-oriented event with quality arts and crafts vendors, live music, excellent food and drinks and fun for the whole family—an event the City of Katy, our residents and businesses and visitors would be proud of.”
According to the chamber, past festivals drew between 45-50,000 visitors each year, with many visitors coming from across Texas, as well as other states.