East Wenatchee is getting a new outdoor, portable stage to handle events such as city-sponsored concerts. 

City staff says the current stage has outlived its life expectancy and does not have a canopy to protect performers during weather events. 

East Wenatchee Events Director Trina Elmes says the stage is both cumbersome and crumbling. 

"Currently we have an older stage that is in pieces that are four-foot by four-foot," said Elmes. "(It's) super heavy metal with plywood on top. And it's falling apart." 

The city is using lodging tax money to buy the new stage, which will be used for city events such as Havana Nights. 

The city council voted this week to give the city's events department up to $100,000 in lodging tax money for the purchase, which will serve to improve the city's tourism-related facilities and events. 

At this week's city council meeting, Elmes ran down the budget of funds available through the lodging tax. She said the fund was on track to finish out its fiscal year with a balance of more than $500,000, without adding the cost of the new stage.  

The relatively large balance is credited to Elmes' salary not being included when federal money came in during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Fairfield Inn also opened up just before the pandemic, which has provided a bump in lodging tax collections. 

Mayor Jerrilea Crawford noted that the lodging tax account was under-utilized during the pandemic while lodging taxes were still coming in, further boosting money in the account. 

She said major funding requests would likely be coming in for various events, which would tap into the account.  

Some city councilors voiced concerns about the $100,000 price tag for the new stage. 

Mayor Crawford pointed out that lodging tax money can only be used for expenses such as the stage as it is meant for events, such as performances and concerts that could promote tourism and overnight stays. According to Crawford, lodging tax money could not be used to buy a new police car, fix a road, or repair the HVAC system. 

This new stage is a trailer that can be pulled by a Public Works truck and opens into a 20’ x 24’ stage with a metal canopy. It takes two people 45 minutes to set up and take down. Elmes said the current stage requires two and a half hours to set up and even longer to tear down.  

She said the stage has been a nightmare to deal with. “We’ve had to cut pieces off to get the stage apart," Elmes said. “The stairs don’t work anymore. At Havana Nights, we set up a stage in the middle of the road, and it took our guys until one o’clock in the morning to get it taken down.” 

The city council did not discuss when the new stage would arrive and be available for the city for use. 

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Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton