COLUMBIA — This year's Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival netted nearly $4.5 million dollars for Columbia businesses, according to an economic impact study conducted by MU researchers.
The study was the first about the festival to be conducted by an independent source outside of Thumper Entertainment, which has hosted the festival for the entirety of its three-year existence. Of seven earning categories used in the study, the top three were shopping, ticket sales and food and beverage.
The study will be presented at the Columbia City Council meeting on Monday.
Dae‐Young Kim, assistant professor in hotel and restaurant management, and doctorate students Kwang‐Ho Lee and Amanda Caroline Alexander prepared the study.
According to the study, an estimated 65,000 people attended the event. The study also stated that 26,130 of festival attendees were visitors from outside of Boone County.
The researchers also conducted a survey at the festival, for which they interviewed 998 random participants — 402 of whom were visitors. Survey questions included gender, household income, purpose of attending the festival, whether subjects stayed overnight and overall satisfaction.
Richard King, a partner of Thumper Entertainment, said he was not taken aback by the results of the study.
“The reason I’m not surprised is it is a very reasonable ticket price,” King said. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty darn cheap.”
Tickets were priced at $13 for a day pass and $18 for a weekend pass.
The study also found that visitors wanted to see ticket prices, food and parking spaces improved at next year's festival. King said it is important to listen to what customers want.
“Our goal is always to make it better,” King said. “The goal is to make it more user friendly. The things that we find out that we did wrong, we fix.”
Lorah Steiner, the executive director of Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she was extremely happy with the impact the Blues Festival had on Columbia.
“For us specifically, 42 percent stayed in hotels,” Steiner said. “That’s a high percentage. The other thing that was very positive was that there was a high percentage of first-time visitors and a high percentage of repeat visitors.”
She said 56 percent of festival attendees were first-time visitors, while 44 percent were repeat attendees.
Shopping brought in the most revenue from the festival, netting more than $1.2 million. Steiner was not shocked that shopping topped the list.
“Shopping is the number one visitor activity, it trumps almost everything else,” Steiner said. “Especially when you have a great downtown. You’re going to explore because the mix of retail and coffee shops and specialty stores pulls people in.”