"American Idol" didn't just make Candice Glover a winner Thursday.
By the time the St. Helena Island native had been crowned in the Fox television series' season 12 finale, $1,318 had been collected during a watch party at the Highway 21 Drive In -- enough to cover the last of the expenses fronted by the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce to boost Glover's candidacy.
The city of Beaufort will still have to juggle funds to cover about $13,400 in police and fire protection it provided for a May 4 parade and community concert that were part of Glover's hometown visit for the show. The town of Port Royal and Beaufort County are expected to chip in for another $6,000 combined.
But donations -- coupled with a commitment from the city for as much as $10,000 in an accommodations-tax grant -- will be enough to cover $38,000 incurred by the chamber, which plans no further fundraising, according to spokeswoman Jaime Dailey-Vergara.
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If the value of volunteer labor -- Beaufort Water Festival's work to erect the concert stage, which equaled about $5,000 in free manpower, for example -- was included, the community put up about $60,000 for the reunion weekend.
Now, the focus shifts to measuring the benefit of the investment, according to chamber tourism division director Robb Wells.
Scenes from Glover's May 4 appearance were included in subsequent "Idol" telecasts. Had the chamber purchased an equivalent amount of commercial air time, it would have cost about $2.1 million, according to Wells. He based his estimate on costs for 30-seconds spots designed to reach an "Idol" audience.
"We couldn't buy that as a community," he said.
The chamber is trying to track inquiries it receives as a result of the "Idol" experience -- for instance, a woman who called last week wanting to know more about St. Helena and the Gullah-Gecchee culture.
"American Idol" paid only for travel expenses for Glover and its film crews, according to Dailey-Vergara.
That means much of the expense of the hometown appearances -- typically conducted after the "Idol" field is whittled to the final three -- lands with the communities that host them.
Ben Bythewood, mayor of Woodville, Texas, told KTRE 9 news that the hometown visit by runner-up Kree Harrison cost his town almost $50,000. T-shirts and koozies were being sold to offset costs. Beverly, Mass., Mayor Bill Scanlon told The Salem (Mass.) News that his city spent about $31,200 on Angie Miller's hometown visit, which was offset by donations from businesses and residents.
Here, the town of Port Royal and Beaufort County contributed by providing additional law-enforcement protection. Port Royal is not billing the chamber and must cover about $1,500 in expenses, and if the county does bill either it will have to cover about $4,500 in costs, Dailey-Vergara said.
"I think, quite frankly, the other governments should eat it, too," Beaufort city manager Scott Dadson said. "Port Royal put money into this, and they're not asking for money. I think the county should eat it too."
Dailey-Vergara said the cooperation and fundraising are indicative of Beaufort's hospitality and attitude.
"There's not a lot of communities where you could bring that many people to the table and have everyone get along and play nicely," she said. "Everyone knew the common goal and worked toward that."