37 years ago Durango was a different town, but we still spend the last week in January trying to ignore how much more winter we have. How do we ignore the dingy snow, the mud or bitter cold (depending on the hour of day)?
We have #SnowDown, basically our longest running festival with no intention of encouraging tourists to visit during it. This year we’re having the theme of Steampunk, which being a Victorian aged town with a coal fire train makes you wonder why it took us so long to get here.
Why is SnowDown different in terms of financial impact than say the year we hosted the start of a big bike race (sorry, I didn’t go and watch and since I’m using my phone to write this I can’t look it up, but I think it might be the Quiznos something)? Part of the difference is the target market and the goal of the event. SnowDown is a cure for cabin fever, we have things like belt sander races, comedy shows that only locals understand, a scavenger hunt and of course lots of beer. As far as I know the only people who come to SnowDown intentionally are the locals, of course there are always tourists in Durango but this is the weekend they all look confused.
SnowDown is a local event, we drink beer and wear odd costumes while running around town seeing what’s up. No one event sums it up, most businesses on main get a boost from the increased traffic. It’s locals spending locally, and it happens every year- you can count on that boost.
Contrasted with the bike thing we hosted, it was supposed to bring thousands and thousands of well heeled folks from around the world to spend the weekend. One off event, but the theory was it would put us on the global road bike map (I had no idea that was something people wanted). But the city put a ridiculous amount of money into setting this up (not all money- they had to provide hotels, treats and such to compete with other towns bidding).
When the event actually happened it wasn’t very big, the huge influx of cash didn’t outweigh the spending (even with the economic multiplier assumed). Most of the folks who watched it start, were locals who didn’t spend anything extra in town.
How did we get our math so wrong? “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.” That’s how, economics can put a spin in either direction on just about anything.
For truly vibrant local economy we need more SnowDown style events (although I’d suggest trying to be a little more family oriented but we are a college town, retirement town, with a ski slope so maybe we’ll get there).
Does your town have a long running event that the locals go to? Long running events that locals and tourists go to? Or one that just tourists got to every year?
Ps. I’m looking for an invite to the Mac and cheese festival in Aspen.