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Audit: Mismanagement Sinks Tall Ships Festival

Posted April 16, 2007
Updated April 17, 2007

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— A state audit released Monday criticized the management of the Tall Ships festival last summer and said a land transfer associated with the event should have been handled differently.

The Friends of the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which organized the Pepsi Americas' Sail 2006 festival held during the Fourth of July week in Beaufort, took out nearly $5 million in mortgages to pay for improvements to the 36-acre Gallants Channel Waterfront, the central venue for the event. They based the figure on money they expected from the General Assembly but that never was approved and on  anticipated profits that never materialized.

The financial spiral continued down from there, according to the audit. Only one tall ship showed up, which meant fewer ships for people to board. That led to longer lines in sweltering heat, which forced organizers to cut off ticket sales and offer refunds to unhappy customers.

Organizers expected ticket sales of $2.6 million, but they brought in only $675,000 and had to refund $92,000 of that. The festival ended up with an operating loss of $1.8 million.

The audit also faulted the organizers for not having a single manager in charge—a series of independent committees ran the event—and for not signing contracts with major vendors, which led to inflated costs for security, public relations and food.

The state took possession of the Gallants Channel property last October, meaning taxpayers must pick up the tab for the losses.

33 Comments

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  • SingleLensReflex.SLR Apr 17, 2007

    so now we know one "money making scheme" ...buy a "tall ship" and berth for a full month at a time in quaint seaport towns up and down the coast, use local publicity and give tours for $$$ with private dinners for extra $$$. kewl. i want one.

  • LaLa-Land Apr 17, 2007

    Sounds like typical nc to me!!!!!

  • LocalYokel Apr 17, 2007

    what actions have we taken to assure that this can't happen again? who was fired?

  • BigUNCFan Apr 17, 2007

    I went with my Mom and Dad to this thing on the opening day Saturday to see the ships come into the port and then get to board them that afternoon. Long story short, we had bus drivers that did not know their routes. Long lines that were in intolerable heat without any shading. We spent over 6 hours there and did not get to board one ship. After my Mom got heat exhaustion from standing in the line for what seemed hours, we finally left and went home.

    Luckily, we saved our boarding passes and got our money back without any problem but what a waste of a July 4, weekend day.

  • gratefultoGOD Apr 17, 2007

    somebody all ways has to ruin the fun!! STEALING is what it all boils down to.. didn't they learn the 10 commandments??/ Bet sundaysailor didn't either.. was he in on this?

  • chargernut69 Apr 17, 2007

    Typical North Carolina planning.....

    ....no roads - no schools - no planning - no clue!

  • G-man Apr 17, 2007

    What do you want to bet the folks in charge got a raise????????

  • mslisac363 Apr 17, 2007

    What did they expect?

  • cheekygreek Apr 17, 2007

    NCSUSally said :Maybe WRAL should pick up the tab, they sponsored it, and couldnt shut up enough about it- especially Bill Leslie.
    >>>Exactly,Shoot I got so tired of hearing him talk about it,that I lost interest before it even got here.Leslie and his "comfort talks"...:{

  • the360forum.com Apr 17, 2007

    JustAnAmerican --

    keep voting for democrats?!

    let us look at the white house and our lovely president's spending and how much the deficit, but thats a whole other news posting and doesnt belong here.

    my wife and i were at the beach during this "waste", but we knew better than to venture into beaufort. we stayed in swansboro where its calm, peaceful, and no traffic problems.

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