Columbia’s fourth annual Roots N’ Blues N’ BBQ festival hits the streets of downtown this weekend. Festival officals expect to bring in 75,000 people to listen to the blues and eat barbecue from vendors from all across the country. But how much impact does the festival have on local businesses?
Columbia’s Convention and Visitor Bureau is partnering with the Roots N’ Blues N’ BBQ festival and the University of Missouri to conduct an economic impact study on the effect that the festival has on Columbia. The festival is put on by Thumper Entertainment. Company president Betsy Farris says they don’t really know the exact impact the festival has on downtown businesses, but she expects it to be “tremendous.” Meanwhile, she says that the festival itself is in debt.
“Right now, we’re still trying to crawl out of a whole. So I think folks have the impression that we’re making a lot of money over here. We’re really not. We’re just trying to bring a wonderful event to downtown Columbia.”
Farris declined to offer specifics about the festival’s finances, but she says to draw more attention to the festival this year, they added several competitions to increase interest and attempt to break even. Richard King, a partner in Thumper Entertainment, also believes the company is in debt, but he thinks that the festival will fare better this year than in years prior.
“It’s safe to say that we are still very much financially in the hole with the festival but last year we significantly stopped the bleeding, in fact I think we turned a corner last year and our goal this year is to just get us back to even.”
Farris also says that the festival posts a list of local businesses on its website in an attempt to create more business for local vendors. Dave Danhuser, Co-Owner of Bingham’s in downtown Columbia, says that while festivals like Roots N’ Blues N’ BBQ may bring a lot of traffic to downtown Columbia, but it doesn’t necessarily affect the economy.
“I don’t think they are coming down to buy clothes, I think they are coming down to listen to music and eat barbecue.”
Farris says that results of the economic impact study should be released six weeks after the festival.