Starkville Restaurant Week organizers are hopeful increased participation in this year’s charity nomination process will translate into increased patrons during the March 28-April 3 event.
This year’s SRW charity nomination total broke 2015’s mark four days into the 22-day process, according to Jennifer Gregory, chief executive officer of Greater Starkville Development Partnership. As of Friday, the Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau, a subgroup of the Partnership, has collected more than 600 submissions.
The nomination period began Feb. 15 and ends March 7.
The SCVB Board of Trustees, a subgroup of the Partnership, will use overall tallies as a guidepost when picking three finalists for SRW’s charity aspect.
The finalists will be announced March 10.
The top vote-getter from the event will receive a $5,000 donation from Cadence Bank, while the runners-up will receive $1,000 and $500 donations.
To nominate an area charity, visit Starkvillerestaurantweek.com/nominate.
“We are so pleased to see the contribution of the community throughout this charity nomination process and anticipate that this excitement will lead to record numbers of diners during Starkville Restaurant Week,” said Jennifer Prather, GSDP special events coordinator. “The nomination process is such a unique opportunity to expose so many wonderful organizations that are serving our community, and we look forward to the selection of the top three.”
This year’s SRW was scheduled later in the year to coincide with a weekend baseball series between Mississippi State University and Ole Miss. The event usually follows the week after spring break, but officials pushed the date back since the March 14-18 student holiday falls the week before Easter.
Officials expanded last year’s event to 10 days to ensure baseball crowds would be in Starkville for another home series, but the event failed to reach 2013’s record-setting participation mark.
This year’s event will again adhere to a seven-day schedule.
The Partnership launched SRW in 2013 as a way to show off the city’s blossoming culinary scene, stimulate the local economy during a historically sluggish week and attract tourists from a 60-mile radius.
Diners who eat entrees at participating restaurants are given ballots for the event’s charity aspect.
The charity competition not only awards monetary prizes to local agencies, but also allows organizers to track how far patrons traveled by asking participants to list their zip codes. Email addresses are also collected, as they are in the nomination process, allowing the Partnership to increase its digital marketing base.
Previous recipients of SRW’s grand prize include MSU’s T.K. Martin Center for Technology, the university’s Disability, and Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic and the Oktibbeha County Humane Society.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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