New entry fee is still a bargain for the festival

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    May 7, 2003 — In this milestone year, the Collage of Culture has secured possibly its best entertainment yet, and is also breaking in a new way of doing business.
   The 10th Annual Collage, set for Saturday, May 17, brings Starship, featuring Mickey Thomas to Madras to headline the daylong festival of music, dance, food and art. Cover bands performing Creedance Clearwater Revival and Jimmy Buffet songs, Hispanic music and dance, Native American dancing, country western music, an array of local performances will be showcased throughout the day.
   For the first time in the event's history, an entry fee will be charged: $5 per person, with those 12 and under allowed in free. Once in, patrons will be issued a wristband allowing them to come and go throughout the day.
   While the entry fee presents a major change from nine years of being a free event, Collage organizers note that the $5 charge is a tremendous entertainment bargain. While a 90-minute movie might cost $8, before popcorn, the Collage has main-stage entertainment from 10:30 a.m. until close to 10 at night, not to mention the myriad of other entertainment avenues the festival offers.
   The Collage has evolved into a full weekend. A street dance kicks off the fun on Friday night, May 16. The event starts at 7 p.m. Bobby Sims and the Blues Rockers perform from 8 to 11 p.m. in the Collage beverage pavilion. This kickoff bash has grown in popularity over the years. There will be plenty of food and beverages available. The entry fee is $5, or free to businesses that want to sponsor a table for $50. Call the chamber for more information: 475-2350.
   Nothing signifies the Collage like hot-air balloons. At dawn Saturday, the colorful balloons will take off from the Collage grounds (Westside Elementary field) and soar above Madras. Organizers expect anywhere from 15 to 20 balloons at the event. They'll go up again Sunday morning, putting an exclamation mark on the event.
   Those who get up to check out the balloons Saturday morning might partake in a good breakfast, served by Alpha Omicron beginning at 7 a.m. They set up shop in the beverage pavilion on the north side of the grounds.
   The Collage will be honoring veterans, members of the Armed Services and all local civil services during the opening ceremonies, set to start at 9:45 a.m. All who fit under those titles are encouraged to come to the ceremony.
   The first acts on the main stage are the kids from the Madras High Desert Dance Arts school, at 10:30. From there, the entertainment flows all day.
   At about 6:15 p.m., between the Japanese Tiako Drummers and the rock/pop band Phoenix, the Collage will be drawing for a brand new Geo Tracker. As a fundraiser, the event is selling chances on the vehicle. A total of just 1,000 tickets are being sold, at $20 each. The winner doesn't have to be present to win, but if they are, they pocket an additional $500 in cash.
   Tickets are going fast, but some are still available, and can be purchased at the chamber office on 274 SW 4th St.
   Along with a full day of entertainment on the main stage, the Collage is famous for its ethnic food court, art tent, beverage pavilion and its art and music in the Westside gym.
   As the sun dips behind the canyon the the west, Starship, featuring Mickey Thomas is scheduled to hit the stage, at 8 p.m. Thomas is the powerful voice behind such classics as Sarah, We Built This City, Nothing's Going to Stop Us Now, and Fooled Around and Fell in Love.
   If you don't know the songs by title, you'll know them when you hear them. Thomas should give country standouts Brad Paisley and Rick Trevino challenge as to the best Collage headliner to date.
   Funding the event
   While the Collage budget has hovered around $70,000 for the past several years, it has always been free to the public thanks to the successful campaigns for contributions, donations and sponsorships. A combination of a slow economy and the opinion that the Collage should be able to stand on its own has led to substantially reduced pre-event funding.
   In 2001, the Collage brought in just under $70,000 in sponsorships and contributions, said Parrish Van Wert, chamber director and the Collage fund-raising chair. In 2002, the number dropped to about $60,000. Sensing a pattern, the Collage organizers decided to initiate an entry fee this year. So far, between $30,000 and $35,000 has been raised through sponsorships and contributions for the 2003 Collage, with more expected in. However, organizers don't expect to come close to $60,000 in contributions and sponsorships.
   "We need good attendance to make the event pencil out," said Van Wert. "We are definitely relying on gate receipts."
   That isn't to say the Collage doesn't depend on those sponsorships, either. Once again, Bright Wood has stepped up to be a Corporate Level Sponsor. Seven other entities are Presenting Sponsors, at the $2,500 or above level: The Campbell Foundation, the Ford Family Foundation, Columbia River Bank, Horizon Broadcasting Group, Kah-Nee-Ta High Desert Resort and Casino, Z-21 and Pacific Power.
   The Collage still has assorted sponsorships available, including canopy and beverage pavilion areas. Family and individuals who would like to contribute are urged to do so.
   For details on the Collage or sponsorship opportunities, call the chamber at 475-2350.
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