GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) - While the city of Gulf Shores deciding to have Auburn University conduct an economic impact study for the Hangout Music Festival, the fest's organizer is speaking to FOX10 News for the first time.
They've put ink to paper regulating where tattoo parlors can put ink to skin. They've stripped so-called offensive and obscene t-shirts from the shelves.
When it comes to its image, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach city officials have made one thing clear: they strive to be a family friendly community.
Does the annual Hangout Festival fit the mold?
It's an event that brings thousands to the beach each year, but it brings added noise, traffic, and occasionally, law breakers.
One thing it brings that you can't argue with - money.
Hangout Festival owner and operator Shaul Zislin said in its four years, his festival has contributed over $150 million to the local economy.
"We have hard data; there are facts," Zislin said. "Typically, the ones who are against are the ones who have no facts. They are the ones who, emotionally, they just don't like it. We have facts to show that this is a great benefit."
Gulf Shores has Auburn University conducting a $12,500 economic study on the festival to assess its pros and cons.
City Administrator Stephen Griffin said this one has nothing to do with deeming the festival family friendly or not.
"This particular study is the economic impact analysis part of it," Griffin said. "There are other studies that the council might want to do to find out. Does it affect that family friendly image that we strive to maintain?"
The Hangout doesn't mind the study. They said the city is using due diligence.
"This is a conservative area that is, I think, figuring out how to deal with changing times," Zislin said. "There's going to be bumps on the road, and I think that city officials are taking into consideration everything, and at some time I think they will figure it out."
FOX10 News asked Zislin if it's a mistake for Gulf Shores should they not decide to move forward with the Hangout Festival.
"I think they made a tremendous mistake," Zislin answered.
FOX10 News wanted to know the likelihood Hangout will return for a fifth straight year.
"That's for the council to decide," Griffin said. "They're going to decide in an informed decision, meaning they're going to use the economic impact study. We're going to assess the good, bad and ugly associated with it, and they strive to make an informed decision with many pieces of information like this impact study."
That study is expected in the next six weeks.
A final decision on the Hangout Festival remaining in Gulf Shores will come in the fall.
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