IT’S THE TIME OF YEAR when many are filled with anticipation. Lost in the 50s is right around the corner, boats are coming out of storage and spring is in the air. It’s also time for the announcement of who will be performing at the Festival at Sandpoint.
With the lineup revealed in mid-May, early bird passes have already sold out. Why? Because the reality is that no matter what acts perform, the August event is always a huge success and the music a hit. Locals and tourists plan their summer vacation around this wildly popular event, now in its 32nd year. Travel downtown during the first two weeks in August, and there is no question that the Festival benefits the entire community with the influx of visitors. But just how big is that impact?
In June of last year Steven Peterson, a Research Economist and Clinical Assistant Professor in Economics with the College of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho in Moscow, along with Moscow economist Stephen Millheim released the results from their study on the economic impact of the Festival of Sandpoint.
The purpose of the study, which was commissioned by the Festival, was to gather concrete information as to how the event and its operations affect the economy, both locally and regionally. The goal was not only to provide sponsors and supporters of the Festival with feedback on their investment, but the Festival board and staff also hoped to use the information when outlining its plan for the future.
“We always knew the Festival had a qualitative impact on the community,” said Executive Director Dyno Wahl. “But we also wanted to substantiate how important the Festival is to the entire economic wellbeing of the community.”
While the 26-page document is filled with charts, graphs and formulas, the bottom line is the Festival draws people from across the nation and the ripple effects throughout our economy are substantial.
The economists looked at the impact on the local economy of the Festival’s own expenditures; the impact of visitor spending; and the overall affect that the Festival and other recreational and arts-related activities had on the local and regional economy.
The results confirm what many already know – the Festival at Sandpoint brings a substantial amount of business to our town.
In fact, 52 percent of ticket purchasers in 2012 were from out of state.
The study showed that in 2012 visitor spending brought in a total of $948,285 in sales. Combine that with the $867,516 that the Festival had in sales transactions, and the total economic impact of sales transactions attributed to the Festival was an astounding $1.82 million.
“It is a wonderful boon to our economy,” said Mack Deibel, Communications Manager for the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. “It is easy to say this (the Festival) is one of the largest events put on in our community in its impact. People have heard about it and want to attend. It is magical, and people have spread the word.”
The opportunity for employment is also impacted, with a total of 25 full time jobs created during this time of high tourism.
The economists also forecasted the economic impact of the festival over the next five years. “In 5 years, total sales impacts….will increase to $2.33 million dollars and jobs impacts will increase to 32. In 10 years, sales impacts will reach $3.0 million and jobs impacts will reach 43,” the study states. It goes on to state that by 15 years from now, sales will reach $3.88 million and job creation will total 54. However, there is a caveat that the forecasted numbers assume no capacity constraints. Given the popularity of the event and the way news of Sandpoint is spreading globally, there is little doubt that organizers will not find a way to accommodate the demand for growth.
“To me, it’s wonderful that something that brings so much joy and that is so fun is also so beneficial to the community,” said Wahl. “It’s a win win situation.”