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New soapbox derby group gets HOT funds

New Marble Falls soapbox derby group gets HOT funds

Spectators at a past soapbox derby wait for the cars to race down Third Street in Marble Falls. A new group might soon bring soapbox racing back to downtown streets. File photo

The Marble Falls Hotel Motel Tax Advisory Committee granted $6,500 to help revise the downtown soapbox derby during its regular meeting Thursday, March 11. If approved by the City Council at an April 6 meeting, the money will be used to help advertise the event, which will be making a comeback after it was canceled last year. This version will be operated by a racer from Plains, Texas, and not the Marble Falls-based National Adult Soapbox Derby Association. 

The local derby association hosted the Marble Falls Soapbox Classic for 10 years. Last year, the city denied the group a permit when derby organizers and city officials could not agree on requested changes to the length of the event and vendors. 

New event coordinators have faced challenges since announcing their intent to bring back the derby.

“(The event) has brought a lot of controversy, and we’re trying to avoid that,” coordinator Shellie Houck said during the meeting. “We want to have a peaceful event.”

Houck and Mary Kay Ragan of Plains approached the city earlier this year about holding another derby, promising to address issues that kept the former group from being approved for a permit. 

According to Erin Burks, downtown coordinator for Marble Falls, the current event application is still under review and a permit has yet to be issued. Houck said the event board is meeting with the Marble Falls special events committee Monday, March 15, to finalize more event details.

Houck requested $15,000 from the HOT committee at its March 11 meeting, but received only $6,500.

“If there’s a partial award, does that impact your ability to put it on?” committee member and City Manager Mike Hodge asked during the meeting.  

“We’ll work it out. We’ll do the best we can,” Houck said.

If approved by the city, the proposed derby could take place Oct. 29-31, Halloween weekend, of this year. Houck discussed details of the event, including a proposed “circular” race route along Third and Fourth streets.

Also at its March 11 meeting, the committee recommended providing a lump sum of $23,000 from HOT reserve funds to the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau to be used for events spread throughout the year. Also, $2,500 could go to the Texas Tournament Zone to retroactively fund a fishing tournament held Feb. 27 on Lake LBJ.