MUNCY - The Lycoming County Visitors Bureau this year is giving out $142,000 in grants - the highest amount ever - to 20 organizations.
Recipients of the funding were recognized during a reception at the Muncy Historical Society Thursday evening.
Bill Nichols, visitors bureau chairman, said the funding represents about 15 percent of money raised through the Lycoming County hotel tax.
Dale LeVan, Lycoming County Fair president, talks with other attendees at the grant reception.
Since the inception of the visitors bureau grant program in 2000, a total of $872,340 has been awarded.
Nichols said the grants are distributed on a competitive basis to assist groups with advertising and promotion of events and activities.
Seven organizations each received $10,000, the highest single amounts awarded.
"They serve as a catalyst for tourism," he said. "Just over 80 percent of total requests were funded."
Among the groups receiving $10,000 this year was the Community Arts Center in Williamsport.
"It would be hard for us to do what we do without it," said Rob Steele, executive director of the Community Arts Center.
Steele said the downtown entertainment facility draws many outside residents who marvel at the affordability of the city.
Muncy Historical Society Board President William Poulton noted that the $7,500 gift allocated for his group certainly is welcome.
"We are an all-volunteer organization," he said.
Lycoming County Historical Society Executive Director Gary Parks said some 15,000 people visit its museum each year.
"But you can never rest on your laurels," he said.
Officials, he said, plan to use the $5,000 grant to boost tourism promotion in 2013.
Nichols noted that three groups were new recipients this year of grant money.
Last year, 18 organizations shared a total of $120,404.
Organizations awarded $10,000 are Billtown Blues Festival, Community Arts Center, Jersey Shore Borough, Korean War Veterans Anniversary State Reunion, Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, Preservation Williamsport-Rowley House, and White Deer Golf Course.
Lycoming County Fair, Wildcat Comic Con and Rotary Balloon Festival each will receive $9,000.
The rest of the funding amounts are:
Muncy Historical Society, $7,500;
Loyalsock Valley Antique Machinery Association, $6,500;
Repasz Band, $5,500;
Preservation Williamsport-Victorian Christmas, $5,000;
Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, $5,000;
Lycoming Historical Society, $5,000;
Fanny in the Susquehanna, $4,000;
Muncy Business Association, $2,500;
Williamsport Business Association, $2,500; and
Jersey Shore YMCA, $2,000.