Bushland 'BBQ in the Boonies' fundraiser sparks controversy - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Bushland 'BBQ in the Boonies' fundraiser sparks controversy

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Every year, the small community of Bushland gets involved in the not so small "BBQ in the Boonies" fundraiser benefiting the Bushland Elementary School.

BBQ in the Boonies is a four-year-old, family fun event, or so some think. With a new, publicly displayed sponsorship from Budweiser this year, Some parents in the community are wondering how appropriate this 'school fundraiser' really is.

It's prepared for year-round. 

"Currently, BBQ in the Boonies is set up under the umbrella of the Parent Teacher Organization for the Bushland Elementary School," explained Justin Gleghorn, a PTO BBQ in the Boonies Board Member. 

A new sponsor was announced this year - the popular beer company, Budweiser.  Coming on as a "Gold Sponsor", Budweiser is contributing a whopping $5,000 to the fundraiser in return for publicity before and during the event in the form of banners and advertisements.

But not everyone was thrilled about the big news. Shortly after the announcement, NewsChannel 10 was contacted by a concerned parent, who wished to remain anonymous.

"There's a moral component," said the Bushland parent. "Kids don't know how to be responsible with it but if you're flashing it in their face, they're going to be more prone. It's like you're advertising to the kids!" she said. "To present it as an elementary school PTO funded event. It just seems immoral and unethical and also the example that it's going to portray for the school district."

Members the PTO BBQ in the Boonies board reassured us, despite Budweiser's sponsorship, no alcohol will be served at the event, by Budweiser or anyone else.  A decision they also say is supported by the school district, including superintendent Don Wood.

"As long as we're not distributing the alcohol or selling it, they stand behind us," said Gleghorn. "They know the important of raising funds for the kids and so they chose to stand behind us throughout this entire process and they understand because they've been to the event, they're involved in the event that we are very concerned about maintaining an environment that's conducive to a family experience at our event."

BBQ in the Boonies has grown exponentially every single year, requiring more money this year that is has in years past.

"It takes lot of dollars to get these kinds of funds, or events started and it takes a lot of money to keep them going," added Gleghorn. "It's a positive contributor to the education experience in the Bushland school district. All of the dollars that we generate go back to the students within the elementary school."

But some wonder, is it donated dough? Or dirty money?

"There's other things we can do.We can get other sponsors first of all, we could get doctor's offices or community friendly businesses," said the concerned Bushland parent. "It would just take more effort. I mean, that's $5,000. Is it worth the $5,000 to potentially put a bad face on the Bushland community?"

Organizers say it's not about where the money comes from, but where it's going.

"Overall, the more successful we are as an event, the more successful Bushland Elementary School can be," said Gleghorn.

"But really what does that say about the Bushland community?" asked the mother.

"Everybody is entitled to their own opinion and how they want to come down on this event but at the end of the day this event sponsors children," continued Gleghorn.

"You know, it's not worth it," the mother told NewsChannel 10. "This is the point where I said this is enough. This is enough."

One thing organizers of the event and those concerned parents did agree on, the idea that BBQ in the Boonies should separate off and become it's own non-profit organization. That way, the event and its sponsors aren't associated with the school system in any way, and organizers can focus on raising money for the event year round through means they deem necessary. Don Wood, superintendent with Bushland ISD did confirm to NewsChannel 10 that the process to become a nonprofit organization has already been started, but it could take up to a year or more for it to be complete.

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