- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - The eldest son of Evel Knievel and a local official married to Knievel’s daughter say the city and county need more control over the three-day Evel Knievel Days festival that draws thousands to Butte in late July.

Kelly Knievel tells the Montana Standard (http://bit.ly/1g7eNgW) in a story on Friday that naming rights for the event need to be renewed. He has the naming rights and wants to do that deal with Butte-Silver Bow rather than the private group that runs the festival now.

“It needs to be renewed and it needs to be through the city because the city is really the one that puts it on,” he said.

Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Matt Vincent, Kelly Knievel’s brother-in-law, said agreements with festival organizers that receive public money need accountability, and that there should be separate operating agreements with the various festivals.

“We are moving forward to continue the investment in these festivals and this festival economy and we want to ensure that it is as accountable as anything else in local government,” Vincent said. “As it relates to the agreement with Kelly, I’m not going to comment on that. My understanding is he is going to present that to commissioners because it is a contract with the city-county.”

Evel Knievel, a Butte native who died in 2007, attained fame combining his showmanship skills and motorcycle daredevil jumps, one of the most spectacular being a failed attempt to clear the Snake River Canyon in south-central Idaho in 1974.

Chad Harrington, the top organizer with the private group that has put on the festival in Butte, said use of Evel Knievel’s name has been between the organizing committee and Kelly Knievel since Evel Knievel’s death.

“He wants to change that and have control between the city and himself,” Harrington said, adding that has coincided with criticism of his organizing group. “Our private group was told that we were mismanaging the event and the city was taking over. It’s a mess.”

He questioned the reasons behind the proposed change.

“Our track record was criticized and it’s kind of a direct conflict of interest for the chief executive, who is married to a Knievel, to be directing what our private entity does,” Harrington said. “The city is not in the festival business, it’s in the festival-support business.”

Vincent said he’s acting in the best interests of Butte-Silver Bow, and his actions are not being motivated because of his marriage to Evel Knievel’s daughter, Alicia.

Vincent has selected Parks and Recreation Director E. Jay Ellington to manage festivals. He and Vincent want separate agreements with each festival organizer. Vincent told Harrington’s group on Monday about the need for a new agreement.

“We are trying to build stability in several directions,” said Ellington, noting that’s the goal for all festivals. “We are trying to get them in one package so we know what it is going to be each year so we can look out three or five years and they have stability,” he said.

___

Information from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com