Lt. Dan Weekend merits county bed tax support

It's a fine idea to award $10,000 in accommodations tax money to organizers of the Lt. Dan Weekend, which brings severely wounded veterans and their family members to a Beaufort festival.

Indeed, Beaufort County Council should follow the recommendation of its Finance Committee, which voted last week to do just that.

However, bed tax funds aren't charity contributions; they should be awarded to organizations that demonstrate their ability to bring visitors to the Lowcountry. As such, it would not be enough in subsequent years for Lt. Dan Weekend organizers to stand before the county -- or any other group that doles out money for similar purposes -- armed only with emotional appeals predicated upon the worthiness of their cause.

Turnout for last year's inaugural Lt. Dan Weekend suggests its organizers can stand toe-to-toe with any other contenders for bed tax funding. The event's highlight -- a free concert by actor-musician Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band in Beaufort's Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park -- packed in about 5,000 spectators, with many others left to listen outside the venue gates. That is an accomplishment of which organizers can be very proud.

But replicating it will be a challenge.

As a first-year event, last year's weekend piqued curiosity and also piggybacked on the established and popular Beaufort Shrimp Festival. This year's Sept. 16 concert will not coincide with the Shrimp Festival (though the Historic Beaufort Foundation's Tricentennial Parade, with Sinise as grand marshal, is Sept. 17.)

Neither will admission to this Lt. Dan Band concert be free; tickets are $17 each through July 15.

The cause -- giving a special, expense-paid experience to service members who have sacrificed so much -- is noble, and we hope the weekend is again a success.

But future Lt. Dan Weekends should not be supported by bed tax revenue unless organizers can show previous ones were supported by out-of-town visitors.