FORTUNE -- It's hard to believe that hiring Mötley Crüe to headline a three-day concert in Mobile was the best use of $600,000 of the $65 million BP (BP) paid the state of Alabama for the gulf oil spill. But Lee Sentell, Alabama's director of tourism and travel, says it went "where it would have the biggest impact" -- which he felt was Mobile's nonprofit BayFest concert on Oct. 1-3.
It featured not just the Crüe but also Earth, Wind & Fire and Lady Antebellum, and offered, says BayFest director Bobby Bostwick, a good return on investment.
"We pay [4%] taxes on every ticket, every beer, every Pepsi," he says, generating at least $28 million to ease the tourism hit Mobile took this year. Then there was the psychic relief. Organizers charged just $15 a day, letting people bang their heads against something other than the threat of unemployment.