Looks like elected officials in Riverside, Iowa, aren't too keen about being known as the "future birthplace of James T. Kirk."
Council members voted last month to deny its annual $10,000 contribution to TrekFest, a weekend-long Star Trek convention of sorts hosted by the town in June. That lack of funding put the convention in jeopardy -- until a sponsor stepped in to save the day.
Mindbridge Foundation, which sponsors sci-fi and other genre conventions in Eastern Iowa, said it would donate $5,000 to the Riverside Area Community Club, which sponsors TrekFest. It matched private donations raised by the convention organizers in a town that has less than 1,000 residents.
"Our role is to promote science-fiction and give back, and TrekFest is a wonderful thing that is deserving of that support," Mindbridge spokesman Dennis Lynch told The Gazette.
Residents of the small town had apparently grown weary of spending money on what they deem to be a private enterprise, despite the potential tourism potential having the Kirk connection brings. The bad economy -- where many local governments are struggling to find tax dollars -- probably didn't help much either.
"That's where it's touchy, especially in a small town," resident Jerry Murphy told the newspaper. "They have the money, but they don't know where the money should go."
The $10,000 would equate to about a $10 contribution from every resident in Riverside. However, local tourism dollars are actually generated by a nearby casino, and not from property tax coffers, The Gazette said.
Riverside earned its designation as the birthplace of Kirk in 1985 after a city councilman was looking for a theme for the annual town festival and had learned Kirk was said to hail from Iowa. The town later got Gene Roddenberry's endorsement for the official designation, although official references to Riverside didn't happen until J.J. Abrams' 2009 film "Star Trek." But even then, Kirk was born in space and raised in Iowa.
The town council has provided financial support to the convention every year since, attracting the likes of George Takei, Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney and William Shatner himself, who showed up in the town as part of a reality show with SpikeTV.
Riverside isn't the only town that has tried to cash in on a Star Trek connection. Vulcan, Alberta has used its name to create a link with Mr. Spock. In 2009, after it failed to reach an agreement with Paramount Pictures to show the Abrams film in the Vulcan gymnasium, Leonard Nimoy personally reached out to news outlets like Airlock Alpha to make sure residents there could see the movie.
Paramount later compromised and bussed residents to nearby Calgary for the film's premiere.
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