Red Poppy Festival is a three-day event held in April in the Georgetown Square to celebrate the city and bring people to its downtown. This year, the Convention & Visitors Bureau contracted with Cygnet Strategies, LLC to survey its economic impact.
Vicky Soderberg, owner of Cygnet, presented the results to the Georgetown City Council on Sept. 10.
Soderberg said the event brought in $1.41 million in food and beverage, $360,000 in lodging, $552,000 in retail and $236,000 in visitor attractions—other activities not part of the festival, such as golfing or the movies.
Of the approximately 75,000 people that attended the event in 2019, 57%, or about 42,000, were from out of town, Soderberg said. She added that on average, attendees stayed for about 1.53 days and spent $38.34 per person per day.
Soderberg said visitors would have likely spent more money if they stayed the night in Georgetown, but the current limits of hotel and lodging options in the city led visitors to staying in other communities.
The city brought in $860,000 separately from local attendees of the festival, Soderberg said. Of that, $494,000 was spent on food and beverage, and $320,000 was spent on retail, she said.
Red Poppy Festival is a free event that does not require tickets and is not gated-in. Soderberg said the event has grown as big as it potentially can get. If the city was looking to make more money from the event, she recommended gearing musical acts and attractions to a crowd that is more willing to spend its money—mostly, those 40 years old and older.
“[The] reality is that your event is so successful, it has maxed out at its venue,” Soderberg said.
Mayor Dale Ross and members of the council said their concern was not so much about economic impact—though it is important—but more about hosting a family-friendly event that shows off Georgetown and its businesses.
Red Poppy celebrated its 20th year in 2019.