The 2017 Dolores River Festival attracted a large regional crowd and benefited local shops and hotels, according to an economic analysis conducted by Fort Lewis College business students.
The annual June festival attracted 1,700 people this year, and they spent money locally, said Scott Clow, chairman of Greater Dolores Action, a nonprofit that has organized the event since 2002.
He gave a breakdown of the Fort Lewis economic report during Monday’s town board workshop.
During the event, a group of students surveyed 165 festival attendees asking a variety of demographic, lodging, spending and festival-experience questions. A similar study was done in 2011, but this one was more robust and surveyed more people, Clow said.
By analyzing the answers and factoring in the most promising assumption that money spent would not have been without the festival, the study estimated the event injected $72,000 to $85,000 into the local economy, with a multiplier effect of 1.36.
“It adds wealth to the community with direct impacts to businesses and vendors at the festival,” Clow said.
By extrapolating spending amounts reported by event attendees and vendors, the analysis estimated an average of $13 was spent by each person at businesses around town, with 43 percent spent on eating and drinking.
“I get a lot of business the morning after the festival,” said Deanna Truelsen, of the Ponderosa Restaurant in Dolores. “It is interesting when the different bands come in.”
The commerce generated an estimated $1,384 in additional town tax revenues, the report says, with out-of-towners bumping up the tax revenues by $800.
Organizers contributed as well. Greater Dolores Action spent $41,000 in production costs putting on the all-day music festival, which featured 10 bands, with one-quarter of production costs spent in Dolores.
With ticket sales and sponsors, plus the work of more than 100 volunteers, the organization came out in the black, Clow said.
“Our sponsors put us over the top, and we could not have done it without our volunteers,” he said, adding that of the 30 total sponsors, 15 were from Dolores.
When asked whether the festival should expand to two days, three-quarters of responders said they supported the idea. Greater Dolores Action said it is considering it.
“With two days, we could have one day focus on live music, and the other more on events such as longer raft trips, the river parade and activities for families,” Clow said.
Camping was allowed on festival grounds this year, but the study found that out-of-towners mostly stayed with friends in town, in hotels, at private campgrounds or on the nearby San Juan National Forest.
This year organizers scheduled music later into the night than past years, with the grand finale featuring headliner Jerry Joseph and the Jack Mormons playing under the stars and rising moon.
Clow said they are reconsidering the late-night show, and may move it back to an earlier time when there is a larger crowd.
“We really appreciate the town’s support and for Fort Lewis doing these economic studies,” Clow said.
Also, according to the survey:
About 11 percent of people who came in from out of town stayed in hotels.The festival was dog-friendly, and 21 percent of attendees brought their dogs.Surveyed festivalgoers came mostly from Dolores, Cortez, Mancos and Durango, but also from New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Texas.About 72 percent of attendees came for the music, and 28 percent came for the family activities and events, including the free raft rides, which had 150 participants.About 97 percent of those surveyed said they would attend the festival again.[email protected]