Ithacans being beautifully Ithacan at the 2016 Ithaca Festival. Photo by Ed Dittenhoefer

TOMPKINS COUNTY — Just over $167,000 in grants were approved Tuesday by Tompkins County Legislature for dozens of organizations, projects and events in the community. The grants are funded by the county’s room occupancy tax.

Tompkins County collected about $2.4 million in room occupancy tax last year, legislator Jim Dennis said. The tax is used for tourism and community events, celebrations and projects. The funding is broken into new tourism initiative grants, community celebration grants, tourism marketing and advertising grants and tourism project grants.

Events like the Ithaca Festival, Streets Alive! Ithaca, the Dragon Boat Festival and Wizarding Weekend received grants. Funding also went to community organizations hosting events like the Greater Ithaca Activities Center and Southside Community Center.

Anyone renting out a room or rooms in Tompkins County for less than 30 days, whether it’s a big hotel or AirBnB, must collect and pay room occupancy tax to the county. The room occupancy tax is 5 percent for properties with 11 rooms or more and 3 percent for properties with less than that.

The grants approved by Tompkins County on Tuesday were four grant programs out of nine that come from the room occupancy tax. There will be a fall round of grants as well, Knipe said.

In addition to the grants, money collected from the room occupancy tax also goes to marketing, to Tompkins County Area Development, strategic tourism implementation, to beautification and public art programs, workforce development and other local projects. About 10 percent goes to administrative costs. The largest amount, about 37 percent, goes to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Tom Knipe, principal planner and tourism program director in Tompkins County, said the mission of the tourism program and tourism board is to invest in tourism in a way that promotes economic development and strengthens community institutions. That includes increasing visitor spending — which was more than $195 million in 2015 — and increasing overnight stays.

“We’re really interested in finding that nexus between tourism … while enhancing local quality of life,” Knipe said.

See how funding was allocated and check out what events are on the horizon in 2017.

ApplicantProject Title/GroupEvent Date(s)Award
Ithaca Underground2017-18: Big Day In, Naked Noise, November Music12/02/2017-4/7/2017$8,750
Center for Transformative Action/Cayuga Lake Floating ClassroomMarket research to launch educational tourism on Cayuga LakeN/A$3,500
Coltivare Culinary Center2017 Finger Lakes Farmers' Market and Culinary Experience6/1/2017 - 10/26/2017$3,300
Ithaca Children's Garden2017 Visual Tour Guide ProjectN/A$5,100
Wizarding Weekend2017 Wizarding Weekend10/27/2017 - 10/29/2017$15,000
Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County2017 Spring Writes Literary Festival5/4/2017-5/7/2017$3,500
Ithaca Asian American Association2017 Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival7/8/2017$10,000
Downtown Ithaca Alliance2017 Ice Festival12/7/2017-12/10/2017$12,000
Ithaca Festival2017 Ithaca Festival6/2/2017-6/4/2017$3,000
Ithaca Shakespeare Company Inc.2017 Summer Shakespeare Festival7/13/2017-7/30/2017$6,627
Sciencenter2017 Science PlaygroundN/A$18,000
Wharton Studio MuseumIthaca Fantastik 201711/4/2017-11/12/2017$12,500
Ithaca Underground (marketing & advertising)2017-18: Big Day In, Naked Noise, November Music Series, One Fest (marketing/advertising)12/2/2017-4/7/2018$4,050
Center for the Arts at Ithaca2017 Come for the Gorges, Stay for a Show (marketing/advertising)6/15/2017-8/26/2017$5,000
Downtown Ithaca AllianceBite of Ithaca 2017 (marketing/advertising)6/26/2017-7/1/2017$2,500
Kitchen Theatre CompanyCable TV advertising for the 2017-18 SeasonN/A$5,000
Primitive Pursuits - Cornell Cooperative Extension2017 Regional Marketing for Overnight CampN/A$3,000
Trumansburg Chamber of CommerceMarketing and Advertising 2017N/A$1,145
Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County2017 Spring Writes Literary Festival (marketing/advertising)5/4/2017-5/7-2017$3,270
Ithaca Asian American Association2017 Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival (marketing/advertising)7/8/2017$3,000
Downtown Ithaca Alliance2017 Ice Festival (marketing/advertising)12/7/2017-12/10/2017$2,500
Ithaca Festival2017 Ithaca Festival (marketing/advertising)6/2/2017-6/4-2017$1,000
Ithaca Shakespeare Company Inc.2017 Summer Shakespeare Festival (marketing/advertising)7/13/2017-7/30/2017$1,000
Paleontological Research2017 Mapping the Planets (marketing/advertising)N/A$2,800
Wharton Studio MuseumIthaca Fantastik 2017 (marketing/advertising)11/4/2017-11/12/2017$2,600
2017 Treasures of Groton's PastTown of Groton6/10/2017$950
Town of Lansing Bicentennial Celebration Ag DayTown of Lansing7/4/2017-10/31/2017$1,200
Celebrating Our Rural HeritageThe History Center in Tompkins County6/17/2017-10/21/2017$1,000
Dryden Lake FestivalTown of Dryden7/22/2017$1,700
Greater Ithaca Activities Center2017 GIAC Festival6/3/2017$1,200
Groton Free Community NightVillage of Groton8/1/2017$700
International Mud DayIthaca Children's Garden6/24/2017$1,500
Latin@ Heritage MonthLatino Civic Association of Tompkins County9/15/2017-10/15/2017$1,600
Latino Multicultural FestivalNo Mas Lagrimas9/17/2017$1,000
We are the Village! Community ConcertVillage at Ithaca10/21/2017$1,200
Newfield Old Home DaysTown of Newfield7/28/2017-7/29/2017$1,700
Playdate in the ParkChild Development Council6/6/2017$850
Reuse Trail ExtravaganzaCooperative Extension Association of Tompkins County10/14/2017-10/15/2017$1,300
Historic IthacaBicentennial Walk and Talks5/13/2017-8/19/2017$1,000
Triphammer Arts Inc.Watermusic and Dancing on the Water7/7/2017-7/9/2017$1,200
Community IftarIslamic Community Outreach Services6/3/2017$1,700
Double Dutch Tournament of ChampionsCity of Ithaca6/16/2017-6/18/2017$1,200
Enfield Harvest FestivalEnfield Community Council9/23/2017$1,700
First Peoples FestivalMulticultural Resource Center10/7/2017$1,300
JuneteenthSouthside Communitiy Center6/17/2017$1,600
KwanzaaSouthside Communitiy Center12/28/2017$1,400
Streets Alive! IthacaIthaca Carshare/Bike Walk Tompkins4/30/2017-9/17/2017$1,600
Winterfest 2017Trumansburg Chamber of Commerce12/2/2017$1,000

Featured image: 2016 Ithaca Festival. Photo by Ed Dittenhoefer

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.