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Red hot 'Celebrate' stats equates to HOT $$$

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Courier Editor

Appearing before Bandera City Council on Thursday, Jan. 6, Genie Strickland requested $10,000 from the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) fund to augment advertising for the 2011 Celebrate Bandera. Strickland serves as coordinator for the popular event, which traditionally takes place over Labor Day weekend.
To bolster her case, Strickland presented council with statistics garnered from last year's event. The stats were gleaned from the 980 questionnaires completed by those visiting the four-day 2010 festival. In a later interview, Strickland said the questionnaires had been supplied by the State of Texas.
She told council that the state only required 700 surveys to be completed, adding, "After 300 surveys, the statistics don't change much."
Although Strickland pointed out, "Not everyone answered every question," the results were impressive - even by Bandera standards.
According to Strickland, the majority of those attending - 61 percent - were female and of the total of those polled, 77 percent indicated this was a return visit to Bandera. More astonishing, a whopping 99 percent plan to visit the Cowboy Capital again.
Total miles driven to the event came to 217,375.35, which averaged 229 miles for the 951 respondents.
Additionally, 51 percent of the 971 respondents revealed this had been their first trip to Celebrate Bandera, but, again, 99 percent indicated that they would return to the event.
Interestingly, only 25 percent of the visitors indicated they would stay overnight in the city. Of the remaining 75 percent, 55 percent noted they planned to stay either in Bandera County or other towns and communities in the Hill Country. The remaining 45 percent apparently intended to make the weekend event strictly a one-day excursion.
With 10 being the highest rating, the 966 visitors who responded to the question "How do you rate the event?" gave Celebrate Bandera nearly a "5 Star" - or 9.1 - rating.
Of the 980 questionnaires distributed, 826 people responded to the financial queries, specifically "the total amount of money they planned to spend." The averaged expenditures of $290 a person totaled $239,299.
According to Strickland's calculations, 20,000 people attending Celebrate Bandera represented an economic impact of $5.8 million to the area. With an attendance of 10,000 visits, the economic impact was still $2.9 million.
These statistics led to a discussion about the approximate number of visitors to Celebrate Bandera.
"I'd love to be able to feed you a number, but I can't," Strickland said, noting that many of the events incorporated into the weekend simply don't have gates. This makes it difficult to track exact - or speculative - numbers.
While council members opined that there "must be formulas" for extrapolating the desired statistics, none indicated where the "formulas" could be obtained.
Because of a decrease in HOT fund revenues, council approved $8,000 for the event with a promise that the remaining $2,000 might be available later.