LIHUE — The County of Kauai will no longer provide grant funding to support the Kapaa Business Association’s First Saturday event in Old Kapaa Town.
It is a decision that organizers hope will not bring an end to the monthly gathering on Kauai’s Eastside that attracts hundreds for live music, art, store specials, food, crafts and other attractions. The KBA plans to meet with Kapaa businesses and other stakeholders to discuss how to keep the event afloat.
“We’re having the meeting (Wednesday) to discuss, without county funding, how we can at least afford security,” said KBA Vice President Neill Sams.
This year, the KBA received a $12,000 grant plus an additional $5,000 from the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s County Product Enrichment Program and the county for First Saturday, according to county spokeswoman Mary Daubert. The money was designated for advertising and traffic control.
Daubert said that every year, the county receives a number of applications for the CPEP program. The selection committee, which consists of HTA representatives, county staff and community partners, then weighs all of the proposals before making a decision.
The primary reasons the committee decided not to award KBA a grant for 2015, Daubert said, was “due to ongoing safety concerns related to the way the event has grown, and the fact that some Kapaa businesses have expressed concerns about the event.”
She said KBA is actively seeking solutions to these matters and the committee invites the association to submit another proposal in 2016.
George Costa, director of Economic Development, said that for every new venture, there are challenges and opportunities along the way.
“The County of Kauai — Office of Economic Development continues to work with the Kapaa Business Association, State Highways Division and Kauai Police Department to address traffic and parking concerns for this wonderful event,” he wrote.
Sams said if KBA is unable to secure alternate funding on its own, it will fall on the businesses to step up and provide financial support. He said he is looking forward to hearing what businesses can — and want to — do.
“I think the thing will survive anything,” he said of First Saturday. “At this point, it’s got so much momentum. The fear is, we want it to stay safe and a family fun event. If you can’t provide security, that’s a concern.”
The final First Saturday of 2014 is from 5 to 9 p.m. this weekend.