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Tompkins County awards Fall 2023 Tourism Program grants to support local events, promote visitor attractions

On October 17, the Tompkins County Legislature approved the award of over $349,000 in grants to local organizations through three categories of Tourism Program grants. County staff are pleased to announce the following grant awards.

Community Celebrations Grants

Grant awards totaling $10,875 were made to seven organizations in the Community Celebrations category. Community Celebrations grants support local events that convey the unique culture and history of Tompkins County. Their mission is to enhance quality of life for residents, improve understanding of local culture, and foster community identity and involvement in ways that are informative, educational, and just plain fun. Community Celebrations are required to be free and open to the public. The events funded in the Fall 2023 grant cycle include:

Event Name


Ithaca Reads Toni Morrison (Calvary Baptist Church)

Nov. 3 – Dec. 17

Kwanzaa 2023 (Southside Community Center)

Dec. 28

Festival of Fire and Ice (Ithaca Children’s Garden)

Feb. 3, 2024

Enfield Cabin Fever

Feb. 24, 2024

Groton Cabin Fever

Mar. 2, 2024

Soul Festival (GIAC)

Sept. 16, 2024

Homestead Heritage Fair (Dryden Town Historical Society)

Sept. 28, 2024

Tourism Advancement Grants

Grant awards totaling $48,675 were made to support five organizations in the Tourism Advancement category. Tourism Advancement grants support projects and marketing campaigns that attract visitors to Tompkins County. The proposals funded in the Fall 2023 grant cycle include:

Project Name


Creating Your Own Barn Quilt (Brooktondale Community Ctr.)

Jan. 13, – Oct. 19, 2024

Mollusks Temporary Exhibit (PRI, Museum of the Earth)

Mar. 15, 2024 – Jan. 30, 2025

Ithaca Festival 2024

May 30 – June 2, 2024

Juneteenth 2024 (Southside Community Center)

June 15, 2024

Ithaca Shakespeare Festival

July 18 – July 28, 2024

Tourism Capital Grants

Grant awards totaling $291,200 were made to six organizations through the Tourism Capital grant program, which is administered in partnership with Ithaca Area Economic Development. Tourism Capital grants support major investments in visitor generating projects. Two of the approved projects are for feasibility studies and four are for capital investments. The projects funded in the 2023 grant cycle include:


Project Title

Friends of theIthaca Farmers Market

Ithaca Farmers Market Site and Access Improvements


Ithaca Mountain Bike Skills Park (study)

Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce Foundation Inc.

Feasibility Study to make Taughannock Overlook Visitor Center operational year-round

Seventh Art Corporation

Cinemapolis Space Purchase Down Payment


Science Park Reimagined: Capital Project

State Theatre of Ithaca, Inc.

State Theatre Concessions Design and Equipment

These grants are an investment in our community's most valuable assets: our culture, our history, and our natural beauty," said Brett Bossard, chair of the County's Strategic Tourism Planning Board. "We are excited to support these organizations and their efforts to promote Tompkins County as a vibrant and welcoming destination, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact that the grants will have on the entire county.”

Impact of the Grants

Tompkins County Tourism Program grants are funded from the Hotel Room Occupancy Tax. Guidance to the County Legislature on room tax allocations is provided by the Strategic Tourism Planning Board. These grants support local organizations working to promote the county as a visitor destination. They fund a wide range of events and initiatives, including festivals, cultural programs, and outdoor recreation projects.

The grants also have a significant economic impact on the county. Visitors to Tompkins County spend money on hotels, restaurants, shops, and other businesses. The tourism industry supports thousands of jobs in the county and generates millions of dollars in tax revenue each year.

Upcoming Grant Cycles

Future funding rounds will be announced following the adoption of the 2024 Tompkins County budget. Details on upcoming grant programs can be found on the Tourism Program website. Notifications about funding opportunities are shared via the Tourism Talk e-Newsletter.


Nick Helmholdt, Principal Planner / Tourism Program Director 607-274-5560