The National Festival of the West is returning to Scottsdale in March after holding the past three events at the new Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass.
The 19th annual event featuring Western music, film, merchandise, poetry and food will be March 19-22 at WestWorld of Scottsdale in a return to the city where it began.
Event founder Mary Brown said the move with Rawhide to the Gila River Indian Community near Chandler was not as good as had been hoped. Brown said she was excited to return to Scottsdale.
"I think it's a better draw," Brown said. "People know Scottsdale is upscale and want to come here. I think that's going to be huge for us."
Brown said she expects an attendance of about 50,000 over the four-day event, which strives to keep alive the history and spirit of the cowboy and the Old West. Brown said typically about half of the visitors are from Arizona and half out of state.
"We have people that come from literally all over the world," Brown said.
The Festival of the West is negotiating a three-year deal with Scottsdale that's expected to come to the City Council in the next 60 days, assistant city manager Neal Shearer said.
The return of the festival of was lauded by council members, who chose to allocate marketing dollars to the event.
On Tuesday, the council agreed on how to distribute $129,457 in bed tax revenue to 11 special events that will use the money to advertise their 2009 events. The dollars must be matched by the events for advertising outside of Maricopa County.
The council voted 6-1 to reduce $1,000 in marketing funds from the top seven events and give the $7,000 to the Festival of the West. Councilman Tony Nelssen was the lone dissenter.
Some of the events that will now receive $15,000 each include the auctions of Barrett-Jackson and Russo & Steele, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and the Scottsdale Culinary Festival.
Nelssen and two other council members earlier voted to use the entire marketing budget of $144,000 and give Festival of the West closer to $15,000.
But budget worries were cited by some in the council, which decided on the compromise to give Festival of the West some money without exceeding the total amount recommended by the Tourism Development Commission.