Tourism increase in Tomball, Magnolia spurs new marketing office, event location

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To keep up with an increase in attendance for festivals and events, the cities of Tomball and Magnolia are taking steps to accommodate growing marketing departments and tourist crowds, city officials said.

The city of Tomball is in the planning stages of opening a marketing office and a community information center at 215 W. Main St. in the former Trinity Fine Jewelry location, said Mike Baxter, director of marketing and tourism for the city. The city purchased the property in October, and the office is set to open in March. Currently, marketing staff is housed with the city’s IT department on Cherry Street.

“As the department keeps expanding activity-wise, we just needed more space,” Baxter said. “We constantly have people call us wanting to put on events here. Having our own space where people can stop in and see what is going on in Tomball is important.”

Baxter said the city is putting on 22 events this year, including GroovFest in September. GroovFest debuted in 2018 with crowds totaling 6,500, Baxter said. Additionally, Zomball in Tomball attendance grew to almost 11,000 guests in October—at least 3,000 more people than 2017’s record.

“City Manager [Rob Hauck] asked me, ‘Where are all these people coming from?’” Baxter said. “They were coming from everywhere to [Zomball].”

In Magnolia, City Council hired a visitor center manager in April, said Anne Sundquist, who was hired for the position. She said she believes the city’s tourism growth is partially due to Texas Renaissance Festival traffic, which draws thousands of people through Magnolia and makes them want to come back for city events.

“There are many people who, when driving through here to go [to the festival], will see something else they want to do here or that they may want to live here,” Sundquist said.

The annual Magnolia Mardi Gras and State Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. Cajun Cook-off, previously held along The Stroll, will be held in Unity Park on Feb. 23, Sundquist said. She said about 2,000 people attended last year, so the city relocated the event to accommodate more guests.

“There are people who will come from other cities besides Magnolia just to enter in the cook-off, and they bring their friends to the event as well,” Sundquist said. “It has definitely grown over the years.”

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Kara McIntyre
Kara started with Community Impact Newspaper as the summer intern for the south Houston office in June 2018 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She became the Tomball/Magnolia reporter in September 2018. Prior to CI, Kara served as the editor-in-chief of The Wichitan—Midwestern State University's student-run campus newspaper—and interned with both the Wichita Adult Literacy Council and VeepWorks.
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