As far as the drastic decrease in financial sponsorship for the event itself, Jarrett said the Charlie West Blues Fest received $5,000 through partner Central West Virginia CVB, which she acknowledged was significantly less than the $30,000 the Charleston CVB gave them the previous year ($25,000 to help cover the premiere act and $5,000 for advertising).
"But that money isn't meant to sustain an event," she said. "People have to reapply each year, and it can vary from year to year."
Rice, she said, applied for $100,000 through the Charleston CVB, which was well beyond the CVB's capabilities or desire to contribute. They declined, but told him to apply for a grant through the Central CVB, which the CVB partners with to distribute local funds.
"Mr. Rice submitted an application and was subsequently awarded $5,000," she said.
Jarrett said working with Rice during the past couple of years has been rough. She even characterized his treatment of CVB staff as "abusive and unprofessional."
One of the CVB's chief complaints was that Rice was putting too many demands on them. He contacted different members of the CVB staff, which was pulling them away from their other duties, which were also important, she said.
"We have a small, dedicated staff, but they have their own responsibilities," she said.
Jarrett said they finally told him he could only work through one person at the CVB.
"We also advised him that he might be best served to hire an event manager, someone who could take on the grunt work, the administrative work," she said. "I think he takes on too much responsibility for himself."
Jarrett said the CVB would love for the Charlie West Blues Fest to stay. Rice could apply for another grant through the Central CVB, and the Charleston CVB would be happy to help with promoting the festival.
"We'd hate to see it go, but if it does, we'll go out and try to find something to replace it," she said.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.