Thousands of shoppers roam the historic downtown streets during the Texas Blueberry Festival, presented by Brookshire Brothers.
(Photo by Bruce R. Partain)
The Texas Blueberry Festival, presented by Brookshire Brothers, is 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturday, June 12, in historic downtown. Festival volunteers are expecting a day of fun for attendees and a blueberry-sweet day of sales for businesses.
"The Texas Blueberry Festival is a free community event that attracted more than 17,000 visitors to the red brick streets and tree-lined Festival Plaza last year," Chairwoman Michelle Smith said. "We're planning to have more at this year's festival."
According to Smith, 48 percent of attendees surveyed traveled more than 100 miles to the festival.
Typically more than half of the attending vendors are also from out of town.
Smith said that many of these out of town visitors stay overnight, visit our restaurants and spend money in our town's stores.
"The festival is a Shop Nac First supporter," Smith said. "It has the immediate effect of retaining dollars that might be spent in another community if our own residents were traveling instead of enjoying and shopping in Nacogdoches."
Gerry Larabee, owner of Heart of Texas, said the 2009 festival was "the best day we have had in years, if not the best day ever."
Other downtown merchants including Lyric Muckelroy and and Mark Delaney report repeat business from shoppers who visited their stores during the festival.
An economic impact report from 2009 estimated direct income generated at hotels and motels to be $72,461, and a total income generated from out of town festival visitors at $475,200 for one day. Using a three-time multiplier, the total economic impact is an estimated $1,425,600.
"We should recognize the good press and positive light that the Texas Blueberry Festival brings to our city," Smith said. "The event helps sell our town to visitors and potential new residents from all over America, and we're building a quality of life and quality of place."
The festival’s unique blueberry-related activities – including blueberry pancakes, fresh blueberry sales and farm tours – garner interest and publicity in Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and sometimes nationwide.
“We’ve made lists like ‘Five Fruit-Filled Festivals,” and had Nacogdoches promoted in news media across America,” said Chamber President/CEO Bruce R. Partain. “That encourages us to try hard every year to do even more.”
Smith thanks downtown business owners as well as the festival's executive board, sponsors and volunteers for working together to make every festival better than the last.