One of Oviedo’s signature events is seeking an increase in funding to be able to continue providing help to residents and city workers.
With a contingent of about two dozen members in attendance, the Oviedo Woman’s Club (OWC) made its case to have the City of Oviedo add to its $5,000 yearly contribution to the group’s annual Great Day in the Country event during the Sept. 7 City Council meeting.
The arts and crafts community festival, which will host its 49th version on Nov. 11 at CrossLife Church Oviedo, features more than 300 vendors, and includes a student art fest, entertainment and food.
The group has given back about $1 million over the last decade, including $94,000 in 2022, mostly in the form of grants, scholarships and assistance to local nonprofits, according to OWC President Roberta McQueen.
Last year, the group gave $52,000 to local schools to support different educational initiatives and teacher needs.
“I think we all know they’re a great organization, and the money goes right back to teachers and the community of Oviedo itself,” Council member Natalie Teuchert said.
Rising costs to put on the event have led the group to ask the city to double its annual contribution, to $10,000, McQueen said.
The Great Day event costs about $21,000 to put on, with the money coming from the group renting out its clubhouse and donations from other groups, McQueen said. The $5,000 — and potentially more — from the City of Oviedo is used to pay city workers, such as police officers, who work the event. This year, OWC wants to increase what they pay the workers since the event falls on Veteran’s Day, a paid holiday for the workers.
Police officers manage event traffic while the fire department provides logistical help.
“We also wouldn’t mind if [the city puts] us in its budget,” McQueen said. “But we ask that we continue our partnership with the City of Oviedo.
“The more they give us, the more we can give away,” she said. “We’re trying to get them to partner more, with the fact that we are going to give it away to scholarships and local nonprofits.”
OWC, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was formed as the Oviedo Magazine Club in 1906, and officially became The Oviedo Woman’s Club in 1915, according to its website. The group helped fund the creation of the Oviedo Library and Friendship Park, McQueen said.
The city’s other signature event is the Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of Oviedo, which will next take place on March 23, 2024. Councilmembers discussed different options for providing additional funding for the Great Day event, including a resolution or ordinance to do so.
“There’s a big difference, in my mind, between a true nonprofit like the Oviedo Woman’s Club [where] nobody gets a salary and they host this event and then 100 percent is given back to the community,” Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek said. “Contrast that with Taste of Oviedo, where [much] of the proceeds are used to pay salaries of the individuals who throw the event. That’s a very different thing.
“If we do not distinguish one as some sort of event that gets some level of funding, and the other is a different kind of event that gets a different level of funding, that does not, to me, feel fair because they’re different qualities of events,” she said.
The Council agreed to discuss the additional funding options at a future meeting.
The OWC currently has 92 members, who pay $75 for annual dues and participate in the group’s hostess committee by serving refreshments at the meetings, McQueen said. Additionally, about 30 members sew blankets that are given to local children in need, and the organization has a student-mentorship program that helps local students learn to read.
“It means so much to the community,” OWC member Judy Gracey said. “People look forward to [Great Day in the Country] every year. The awards we give support the city. It just brings the whole community together, which is so important in this time.”
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