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McHenry mayor '100%' in on helping city fundraise with country music festival

McHenry mayor helps city's fundraising efforts with country music festival
McHenry mayor helps city's fundraising efforts with country music festival 02:29

MCHENRY, Illinois (CBS) – Talk about putting the fun in fundraiser.

On Friday night and Saturday night, a northwest suburb will host two benefit concerts to pay for community upgrades.

They're renovations the city of McHenry could not otherwise afford.

Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains how the mayor's clever math made the music happen.

The buzz in McHenry is all about nailing the numbers to leave this weekend's big country concerts with a mega profit.

McHenry's own mayor, Wayne Jett, is orchestrating the music money maker. His non-profit, the R.I.S.E. Up Foundation is bringing country stars like Brad Paisley and Dustin Lynch to town. The hope is fans take their wallets with them.

"I think everyone's pretty excited in the community," said Jett, explaining that everyone in the community benefits from the benefit concerts. It's all in the name R.I.S.E. Up which stands for "Revitalize, Invest, Succeed and Encourage."

McHenry hosted another concert fundraiser for R.I.S.E. Up last year. It cost about $600,000 to throw. Ticket and alcohol sales along with sponsorships covered the expenses with about $200,000 left over. That profit paid for a community splash pad that's now under construction.

"Something like this [the splash pad] definitely betters the community. It's something for kids to do, families to come to," said Jett.

This year's proceeds will pay to revamp McHenry's Riverwalk area. Plans include fresh landscaping, an ice skating rink and an amphitheater. Cute, tiny shops with a low square footage will charge low rent to budding businesses in the area.

"It's kind of an incubator to be able to get those people [entrepreneurs] to make that jump," the mayor said.

CBS 2 asked Jett why other cities and towns don't take the same approach to funding community projects that their budgets don't have room for.

"It's kind of tough to say but I'm kind of one of those people that I'm 100% in," said Jett who wasn't kidding, because it turns out that he personally loaned more than $200,000 to his foundation to get 2022's live music fundraiser off the ground. He did the same thing for 2021's event.

"Without the money up front, you can't get contracts going," Jett said, explaining the reason for the loan. "After we get our revenues back through ticket sales or sponsors, I reimburse me personally…with zero interest."

The goal is raise between $300,000 and $400,000 for the downtown Riverwalk project, just from this weekend's concerts. 

The entertainment events will cost a whopping one million dollars but at least a quarter is already covered by sponsors plus ticket sales are raking in cash. Both shows are almost sold out.

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