Hosting the annual Touchstone Energy All “A” Classic always is a team effort for Richmond, but this for this year’s event, the city’s tourism department is calling on local businesses and other volunteers to make the team even stronger.

“We have sent out letters asking businesses for monetary donations and food donations,” said Lori Tatum, director of the Richmond Tourism and Main Street Department.

A group of about 15 local volunteers have helped out during the 19 years the city has hosted the tournament, but other volunteers are beginning to surface.

“We also have people who know about the city’s financial status and have volunteered to help this year,” she said.

The Touchstone Energy All “A” Classic State Basketball Tournament will take place Jan. 27 through Jan. 31 at the McBrayer Arena on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus.

The tournament normally brings in about 50,000 out-of-of-town residents, and has a significant economic impact on the community, filling hotels and motels, restaurants, stores, gas stations and businesses, Tatum said.

The city must budget $50,000 each year for the rental of EKU’s McBrayer Arena, and in past years has provided all funding for concession items such as eating utensils, plates, napkins and soft drinks.

“In the past, we had asked the fire department to cook chili and soup, and if we didn’t get enough food, the tourism would buy more food,” she said.

“We are relying heavily on food donations (for this year’s tournament),” she said.

Donations of food are needed for this year’s tournament, including buffalo wings, nachos, salads, hamburgers, chips and other concession items.

Local restaurants including Hardee’s, Cracker Barrell, Madison Garden, Captain D’s and Outback Steakhouse are regular contributors to the annual basketball tournament, Tatum said.

Aside from food donations, individual volunteers also are being sought to take game tickets at the door, work in the hospitality room, sell tournament T-shirts and work as ushers to help ensure guests are seated according to their tickets.

Having help from local volunteers will cut overtime expenses the city has paid in the past for city employees who worked as a part of the event, Tatum said.

The support that already has been shown by the community is impressive, she said.

“It’s wonderful to know that we have people in our community that I can rely on, and it makes my job a lot easier to know that there are people out there who care,” Tatum said. “That’s a testament as to why we’ve been able to keep the tournament.”

For more information about making a donation toward the cost of the event or to volunteer, call the Richmond Tourism and Main Street Department at 626-8474 or send an e-mail to tourism@richmond.ky.us.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@ richmondregister.com or 624-6608.

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