BeachBear Weekend Organizer Feels Underappreciated By Convention and Visitors Bureau

A stalemate has set in as officials with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and Beach Bear Weekend negotiate terms of a contract. Bob Young, a producer for Beach Bear Weekend – a gathering of mostly men ages 35 to 55 during Mother’s Day Weekend – feels his event is being inadequately funded.

“I’m a whistleblower,” Young said in an exclusive interview with SFGN. “What’s going on here is not fair. I'm furious.”

Young is accusing the Convention & Visitors Bureau of mismanagement and failing to properly recognize Beach Bear Weekend. Young says, Beach Bear Weekend is a homegrown local success and worthy of support from the CVB and Broward County based businesses.

“The bear community is like a brotherhood,” Young said. “We all stick together and we give back to the community.”

Richard Gray is the managing director of the LGBT market for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. He has exchanged emails with Young concerning Beach Bear Weekend and provided such correspondence to SFGN.

“Bob is a very difficult person to work with,” Gray said.

Young’s current demand calls for the CVB to fund Beach Bear Weekend to the tune of $15,000 annually for three years. The contract has yet to be signed.

“Bob is holding us hostage and we are not going to be held hostage,” Gray said.

The CVB, Gray said, has already given Beach Bear Weekend in-kind donations in marketing equivalent of $50,000, including an estimated $4,000 in Facebook marketing. On top of those concessions, there is a current offer of $8,000, Gray said, which neither side has agreed on.

Young decided to take his concerns public after the CVB’s recent decision to roll out the red carpet for Gay Days Fort Lauderdale in that event’s first year. Young called the event, which was held at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel over Thanksgiving weekend, “a flop.”

Gray, however, said it takes time to cultivate a successful event.

“The (Gay Days) brand itself has great value,” said Gray. “Over time this could become our signature LGBT event.”

Meanwhile, Beach Bear Weekend recently announced Courtyard by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Beach is returning as host hotel for the fourth year in a row. Young proudly notes the event has received international support from investors in Spain and proceeds are returned to the local community through organizations such as the Pride Center and Abandoned Pet Rescue.


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