HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Vendors looking to sell goods or food at events in Horry County usually have to pay $100 per day for the duration of the event unless that event is scheduled during Harley Week or Bikefest.
In that case, the cost of vending permits could be even higher.
Scott Thompson, who owns Thompson Farm and is running for the District Four seat of Horry County Schools Board of Education, found out about the increased vendor permit fees after scheduling the Thompson Farm Local Grown Country Music Fest for May 21.
Thompson said he settled on that date for the inaugural concert to provide an alternative entertainment option for those who didn't want to be in town during the Harley rally.
In February 2009, Horry County Council members passed an ordinance increasing vendor fees during the rallies based on specific geographical areas.
"A non-food vendor is $400 and a food vendor is closer to $500 dollars," said Thompson. "But on top of that, there's a $100 per day hospitality fee," Thompson said.
He said he halved his own fee for the vendors from $500 to $250. However, he understands the price is still too steep when it's added up with the county's fees.
"You're looking at $750, $850 to be here and I don't think I would do it for that price," Thompson said.
He said 15 vendors have signed up to come to the festival, but he was hoping for 30 vendors in total.
"It's really disappointing," he said. "These people want to get out and show their products to people when they're in a confined area and it's just been really difficult because of the price."
Horry County Councilman Al Allen said the fees are necessary to make up for the costs to the county to provide public safety personnel.
Special events organizers will have to pay those costs as well, but Councilman Johnny Vaught said anyone profiting from an event should have to contribute toward those public services, such as vendors.
Vaught said the county also needs to make sure those selling goods are quality vendors.
Thompson said his one-day concert on a farm in Bucksport is different from events closer to the beach during the bike rallies.
"It's really not as time consuming for EMS or police out here as much as it would be in town, which is understandable, but it just needs to be looked at on more of an individual basis," he said.
Vaught said the county has a wide variety of events to cater to and no solution exists that is going to benefit all of those events.
He added that council could always look at making changes. Thompson hopes to work with county council members to come up with a solution for the future.