BIRD’S EYE — Spec Martin Memorial Stadium is where the City of DeLand intends to host its inaugural Mud Dog music festival. The stadium, as seen above, is the home stadium of the DeLand High School Bulldogs football teams as well as the Stetson Hatters. In addition, other local sports teams use the stadium, and marching band competitions have also been staged at Spec Martin.

The City of DeLand wants people to get ready to rock to their favorite hits from years past. The city is planning a music festival featuring cover bands playing the best of the ’80s, ’90s and more. With a target date of April 20, 2024, city officials have high hopes for their inaugural Mud Dog Festival.

Drawing its name from the fictional football team in the 1998 film The Waterboy starring Adam Sandler and partially filmed at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand, the Mud Dog Festival aims to capitalize on the local — and not so local — popularity of throwback hits from decades past. Pointing to the popularity of Central Florida radio stations that play hits from the ’70s forward, DeLand’s planning team is looking to book four bands that specialize in covering those tunes: The Molly Ringwalds, Saved by the 90s, the Hooligans and HairDays.

While many of the aspects of the Mud Dog Festival won’t be locked down until mid-October, Deputy Parks and Recreation Director Chad Rhodes told The Beacon, the planners are optimistic about knocking it out of the park with their inaugural festival and paving the way for future plans.

“We’re willing to put the work in to see what will happen,” Rhodes said. “We think it will be successful with it so we can build on it year to year.”

The one-day music festival is expected to cost the city around $150,000, but the planners and city officials are optimistic that, with ticket sales, they can at least break even.

“If we make a profit this year, great,” Rhodes said. “We want to do an event that makes people happy and, obviously, doesn’t lose money.”

Rhodes estimated that with ticket sales alone the city could make back the $150,000 if they fill Spec Martin Memorial Stadium — which can hold thousands of people — just 40 percent. The city also hopes to make back some money through parking fees, drink sales, sponsorships and more.

The DeLand City Commission discussed the Mud Dog Festival at its Sept. 6 meeting, and city officials were positive about the plans.

“I think it’s a good idea,” City Commissioner Dan Reed said. “I think it could be really great.”

Reed, who owns Cafe DaVinci, a bar and music venue in Downtown DeLand, said hosting a good event like a music festival is all about risk and reward.

“It could be a complete failure,” Reed said, “but you don’t know until you try it.”

More information about the Mud Dog Festival, including ticket prices, sponsors and a finalized lineup of bands, is expected in October.

A piece of the pie

The $150,000 earmarked for the inaugural Mud Dog Festival is just part of the money the City of DeLand intends to spend as part of its budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. In total, the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year clocks in at $103,977,731.

The budget includes money to raise city staff’s salaries, money to hire six new staff members — including a new police officer — and other expenses like helping run The Bridge homeless shelter operated by The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia and more.

To help fund its budget, property taxes will increase for many residents. The City Commission tentatively approved a millage rate of 6.4841 at its Sept. 6 meeting. The millage rate represents how many dollars property owners will pay — after exemptions — per $1,000.

The commission adopted the budget and tax rate unanimously Sept. 6 with no comments from the public



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