Economic Impact of the Texas Blueberry Festival
Posted 08 - 12 - 2008
Chamber Special Projects VP Michelle Smith presents Mayor Roger Van Horn with a 2008 Texas Blueberry Festival poster. Chamber Chair Kim Luna Snyder also presented City Commissioners with the Film Friendly Texas certificate at the August 5, 2008 Commission meeting. (Photo: Bruce R. Partain)

The Nacogdoches County Chamber’s 19th Annual Texas Blueberry Festival - presented by Brookshire Brothers and held Saturday, June 14, 2008 - was a huge success, with an estimated 16,000 attendees – surpassing the record-setting 2006 and 2007 festivals, which attracted 13,000 attendees.

Being blue brings in a lot of green
Hayter’s Mill Creek Farm sold 12,000 pounds of fresh-picked Nacogdoches County blueberries, surpassing 2007’s 9,450 pounds. The six tons of blueberries sold out in just four hours. Mill Creek Farm reps say they will bring 18,000 pounds in 2009.
The Kiwanis served 6,000 fresh blueberry pancakes to 2,000 people, equaling 2007.

The Blueberry Place pick-your-own blueberry farm saw increases, as well. Visitors picked 1,485 pounds of blueberries this year, compared to 1,370 pounds last year, and only 400 pounds in 2003. In five years, the number of pickers has doubled, according to Roger and Sherrie Randall, who generously welcome the crowds.

Blue Diamond Sponsor Brookshire Brothers doubled their investment in the festival, and again greeted thousands of guests with a fun kids play area at their booth on the historic town square. “We gave out 5,700 ice creams and 3,500 bottles of water,” reported Gloria McDonald, director of public relations for the corporation.

Wal-Mart manager Joe Escojido says that Blueberry Festival weekend causes a 10 to 20 percent boost in business over a typical Saturday. That translates to thousands of dollars in sales – and in sales tax revenue for the City.

Downtown merchant Lyric Muckelroy said the festival brings in a shopping crowd that is “bigger than Christmas.” Shoppers return to her store the following week to buy more furniture and other decorating items. Mark Delaney of the Nacogdoches Antique Market reports a similar pattern.

Restaurateur Donna Finley reports that Casa Tomas – located a mile north of the festival - is usually filled with hungry festival goers from mid-afternoon through the evening.

Hotel/motel occupancy for the festival weekend was very good – with an estimated 80 percent of all rooms in town being sold. Helping the attendance was the upgraded 42 Tournament, which is now state-sanctioned.

Local media were excellent partners, on top of coverage in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Houston Chronicle, Texas Highways and Texas Monthly.

Chair Joe Scifo and the festival’s executive board thank the sponsors, volunteers, attendees, businesses, all City of Nacogdoches departments, CVB, Keep Nacogdoches Beautiful, Expo Center, Sheriff’s office, media and everyone else who made this festival work so well.

Texas Blueberry Festival 2008: Economic Impact
Estimated:
Total Attendance: 16,000
Out of town visitors: 4,000 (approx. 25 percent*)
Hotel occupancy: 50% attributed to festival (est. 80% occupancy)
= using $75 per room; 816 of 1021 rooms.

Direct Income generated at hotels/motels - 816 room nights- $61,200
Total Income generated from out-of-town festival visitors: $432,000
($108 x 4,000, using just one day.)
Economic impact: If using a 3x multiplier: $1,296,000
If using a 3.5x multiplier: $1,512,000

*Note: Forest Trail survey 2005 estimated 48 percent of festival visitors are from outside of Nacogdoches, therefore possible impact could be more than $2 million. 2008 stats to be released soon.

More background:
Kiwanis President Brian Bray reports that their hungry pancake customers sailed through 100 bottles of syrup, 54 gallons of Hastings Hardback Café coffee, 38 gallons of blueberries and 25 cases of water.

Typically at least 50 percent of vendors are from out of town. Many spend one to two nights in local hotels/motels. For just the 130 vendors, we estimate $9,750 in hotel expenditures and another $14,040 in restaurant and food sales.

The Festival budget is about $50,000 - most of it is spent locally with many businesses large and small - from printing to banners to golf carts to hardware to ice and t-shirts.

Aside from attracting out-of-town visitors to Nacogdoches, the event provides a “quality of life” event that makes our community even more attractive for current and future residents.

It has the immediate effect of retaining dollars that might be spent in another community if our own residents were traveling the state instead of enjoying – and shopping in – their hometown.
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