There is no doubt that the Hungerford Hall has been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but receiving funds in the name of the disease has been bittersweet.
Since Wharton County was declared a disaster area due to the pandemic in March, Hungerford Hall has been booked four times.
Cynthia Ivy, who is the treasurer for the Hungerford Hall Board of Directors, said it has been “awful.”
“We went from having functions every weekend to just four since March; we were shut down because we are (also) a bar,” Ivy said.
The four events included two weddings that were held this month.
And when Ivy says that the events have been scaled down and small, it’s both parties – hall staff and the renters who are abiding by social distancing etiquette and wearing of face masks.
Seats have been taken away and tables are now separated.
“We have taken a big hit, but we are still open for events if someone wants to book with us,” Ivy said.
It’s for the “big hit” that Hungerford Hall was one of 32 dance halls in Texas to receive funding from Texas Dance Hall Preservation (TDHP), Inc. last month through its COVID-19 Relief Fund.
The board of directors with Hungerford Hall met this week. This is when Ivy spoke to the board about the funding during a Wednesday, Jan. 20 meeting.
Another board member, Sandy Sanders, said they were excited and grateful when they found out about the funding. It was even better when they received the funding a few weeks into the new year.
In a news release, TDHP said in response to the ongoing closures of halls due to COVID-19, the organization launched the Texas Dance Hall Relief Fund, raising over $260,000 for 32 halls across the state. Ivy was notified last year that Hungerford was one of them. However, she didn’t want to share the information until she knew there was a check in hand.
She said the TDHP reached out to her last month because Hungerford Hall was considered one of the “oldest dance halls in Texas.”
The TDHP said the funds would reimburse halls for insurance and utility costs paid during the shutdown that began in the spring of 2020 and lasted for several months. Ivy said Hungerford Hall paid its utilities, insurance, telephone, and gas. It was required to send the TDHP receipts for the expenses Hungerford Hall paid.
“It was very specific in what the money needed to be used for,” Ivy said.
Ronald Krenek said Hungerford’s hall is one of the best dance floors in Texas. “It takes great people to upkeep this hall,” Krenek said.
Carol Kurtz Campbell said she hopes to dance there again.
On the website, the TDHP said this is “a hopeful way to close out a difficult year; here’s to 2021 and to coming together again.”
About relieF funding
The TDHP officials said in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 grant rounds, TDHP was offering enhanced grants of up to $5,000 for TDHP member halls. Dance halls that are not members of TDHP were eligible for grants up to $2,500. The deadline for the grant was in October.
According to the TDHP it offers seed grants (usually up to $2,500) to help dance halls make repairs or help pay for a building condition assessment by a qualified architect or structural engineer. Preservation fund grants have helped hall owners fix damage to roofs, dance floors, and other critical items. Although the preservation fund grants may not pay for an entire project, a small grant can help kick off a larger fundraising campaign. The TDHP reported that Hungerford Hall received $9,000.
To qualify, the applicant must be a non-profit organization with current 501(c) tax-exempt status per the Internal Revenue Service. Both 501(c)(3) and other 501(c) organizations are eligible, including fraternal organizations’ lodges, such as SPJST, Sons of Hermann, and Knights of Columbus.
Applications are considered twice a year at TDHP spring and fall board meetings, with awards made shortly thereafter.
For information about booking the Hungerford Hall, call Frank Miculka, who is the hall manager. The number is 979-453-0060.