The art of spending money: Kimball fest crowds put millions into economy |

The art of spending money: Kimball fest crowds put millions into economy

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Park City Kimball Arts Festival last summer put an additional $10.6 million into the local economy over the three days, the Kimball Art Center indicated in a report detailing the festival’s numbers, an infusion of money that was welcome during what was a so-so summer for business.

The money people spent at the arts festival itself was the top category of spending, including art purchases, concession sales and admission fees, according to Robin Marrouche, the executive director of the Kimball Art Center, the festival organizer.

The No. 2 spending category was restaurants, followed by lodging and recreation, she said.

"These three days bring a tremendous amount of economic impact," Marrouche said, mentioning that she has been told some hotels were sold out of rooms during the festival.

The number of people who attended the festival in 2010, nearly 50,000, rose sharply from two years before, the Kimball said in a report that was later released by City Hall. The Kimball did not have a report done in 2009.

The report, which was distributed to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council late in 2010, indicated 49,500 people went to the festival. The Kimball said the attendance was approximately 42,000 in 2008, making 2010 a nearly 18 percent increase.

Recommended Stories For You

Two-thirds of the people who attended last year were from Utah, while Californians accounted for 6 percent of the attendance, the second-highest bloc of people, followed by Arizona’s 4 percent and Florida’s 3 percent. The Kimball said 2 percent of the people were foreigners from either Canada or Mexico.

Of the people from Utah, the largest proportion came from Salt Lake County, accounting for 35 percent of the attendees. Summit County people made up 24 percent of the attendees. Utah County, with 11 percent, and Davis County, with 10 percent, were the other two places with 10 percent or more of the attendance.

Marrouche said organizers conducted a wide-ranging marketing program prior to the festival last year, with the event being advertised throughout Utah and in places outside of the state. She described a collaborative effort between the Kimball and festival sponsors like Coca-Cola. The soft drink maker painted arts festival designs on trucks that traveled through Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, she said. She also said the Kimball combined marketing efforts with other cultural events.

The numbers are the most detailed set of figures the Kimball has released about the arts festival, which remains one of Park City’s top special events. Marrouche said the Kimball wanted the numbers available as it seeks grant money and sponsors.

Marrouche said she wants the attendance in 2011 to increase from the 49,500 counted last year, with her saying she hopes the number reaches 60,000 this year. That many would represent a 21 percent increase from 2010. This year’s festival is scheduled from Aug. 4 until Aug. 7.

Some other results from the survey of people at the festival included:

  • Sixty percent of the attendees were between 46 years old and 70 years old. There were few young people at the festival — only 1 percent of the attendees were 18 years old or younger.
  • Nearly one-third of the people earned between $50,001 and $100,000 annually. Twenty-three percent earned between $100,001 and $149,999 annually. Twenty percent earned more than $200,000 each year.
  • Sixty-eight percent of the attendees were either college graduates or held post-graduate degrees.
  • Sixty-two percent of the people said the primary reason they were in Park City was to attend the arts festival.
  • Just more than half of the people — 51 percent — said they were staying in their own homes during the festival. Another 18 percent were renting rooms in hotels, motels or a bed-and-breakfast. Other lodging options, each accounting for less than 10 percent, included staying with family or friends, vacation rentals or vacation homes.

    Marrouche said she hopes the number of people attending from outside Utah rises, saying the out-of-state visitors inject more money into the economy since they stay in rented places rather than at home.

    In a memo to City Hall that accompanied the numbers, Marrouche said the festival was a "success on many levels," noting the increased attendance and wider media coverage.

    The three-day arts festival is held in early August each year on Main Street, and 2010 marked its 41st year. It raises money for the Kimball. The numbers were likely received favorably at City Hall, where officials have long been trying to widen the summer tourism industry.

    Alison Butz, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of approximately 200 businesses on or near Main Street, said some places benefited from the arts festival while others did not. That has been the case for years. Butz, though, called the arts festival the "signature event for the district."

    "It is a mixed event for merchants on the street," Butz said.