Barbeque Events can be a Bright Spot in Economic Downtimes

May 21, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 21 /PRNewswire/ — Even in the midst of a recession, barbeque competitions seem to be hotter than ever – generating revenue and fun for cities.

The events bring more than good food, fun and entertainment; they have a direct and indirect economic impact on the cities that host them.

Research shows that a typical out-of-town visitor spends $257 per day in the barbeque host community. That average expenditure varies depending on the geographic locale and the size of the event.

For example, in Fayetteville, Ark., more than 350,000 attendees participated in last year’s four-day Bikes, Blues and BBQ Festival, ultimately infusing $30 million into the regional economy, according to Ron Autry, BBQ coordinator.

“Every hotel within 100 miles was booked to capacity,” said Autry. From local patrons to out-of-towners, attendees enjoyed the smoke of competitive barbeque teams, championship cuisine and live entertainment. In addition to barbeque fans, more than 50 judges and 50 barbeque teams from dozens of states descended on Fayetteville. Their impact was felt at many local businesses as they purchased meats, supplies and overnight lodging.

It is this kind of economic success that is driving many cities to enter the barbeque arena for the first time. While they may have to start small, places like Pacific, Mo. still reap benefits from holding barbeque competitions. At its first Great Pacific BBQ Festival, Pacific drew 3,000 attendees and 35 competition barbeque teams. Attendance was free, and the event still broke even.

The little town of Arthur, Ill., which is located in the middle of Amish country, meets its budget but it doesn’t make a lot of extra money. However, the size of this 2,000-resident hamlet doubles every October during Central Illinois Bragging Rights. Its sole purpose is to promote the village.

“The contest brings about 45 competition teams and more than 5,000 attendees into our town every year,” estimates organizer George Fritz. “And that’s the goal.

“Our grocery store directly benefits from goods bought by the teams,” said Fritz. “Bars and restaurants benefit; our retailers and hardware store benefits. Our businesses understand the value of visitors.”

The ultimate goal is to develop an annual event like the River City Roundup in Omaha, Neb., where more than 100,000 visitors gather annually. More than 47 percent of last year’s attendees came from out-of-state. Omaha officials estimate the event increased local business sales by $25 million. The increase was generated by direct sales of $8.6 million and indirect sales of $17 million. Indirect sales originate from residents whose payrolls are funded by tourist purchases.

“Jobs indirectly generated or induced by tourism are some of the best and have the most impact of any industry,” said Paul Serff, chair of the Travel Industry Association Foundation.

“Check the accounts payable lists for hotels and attractions. You will find many local vendors… florists, bakers, landscapers, construction workers, special events planners and advertising executives,” points out Serff. “Also consider that almost half of many white tablecloth restaurants’ revenue comes as a result of travel and about 17 percent of fast food restaurant (revenue).”

Out-of-town visitors to Omaha’s River City Roundup spent an additional $2.4 million in lodging – with an average overnight stay of two nights. It is estimated that the event, excluding lodging, generated more than $325,000 in sales tax, and yielded an additional $1.5 million in gasoline tax.

“Nearly 80 percent of our attendees travel from outside Omaha, creating an incredible impact on the local economy,” said River City Roundup Board Chairman Kirk Kellner. “It is Omaha’s official community celebration and an economic driver and showcase celebrating the positive attributes of our region.”

Local charities are often benefactors of barbeque competitions. In Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Boys and Girls Club has received more than $1 million from proceeds netted by the Washington BBQ Battle, an event that is now in its 18th year.

The Smokin’ 4th BBQ Shootout in Durango, Colo., has been financially successful from its first year. Now in its fifth, organizer Mark Simon said sponsors donate around $5,000 annually to the Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County.

Since May is National BBQ Month, it’s a good time to ask how do you start a barbeque competition? Where can you turn for assistance?

The most popular answer can be found in the country’s heartland, Kansas City, Mo. That’s where you’ll find the non-profit Kansas City Barbeque Society, the industry’s most respected judging and sanctioning body for barbeque competitions. With more than 10,000 members worldwide, KCBS has trained judges and sanctioned contests for more than 20 years. To date, about 15,000 people have become “certified” barbeque judges, and more than 4,000 teams compete nationally at about 300 KCBS competitions. The society has literally given birth to barbeque nomads who travel in every direction to claim the KCBS coveted “Team of the Year” award.

Growing the sport through kids’ competitions is becoming a popular part of many barbeque contests. Often, a sponsor will donate grills that kids can use, then take home. KCBS rules also govern kid’s competitions; however, instead of brisket they cook chicken or hamburgers and always under adult supervision. The young competitors take the challenge seriously. At the Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival in Sevierville, Tenn., one young man reverently asked if it was against the rules for him to take off his apron and go play. Contest representative Phillip Brazier seriously considered the question and ruled that play time was not against KCBS rules.

“What other friendly sport can you choose that generates so much economic gain for communities and downright fun for entire families?” questions Carolyn Wells, KCBS co-founder and executive director. “And did I mention the great food?”

Wells points out that part of the KCBS mission is to “celebrate and promote barbeque as America’s cuisine.” Add to that the economic impact of barbeque competitions, and cities across America may have the perfect recipe for an ailing economy.

In 2008, KCBS began sponsoring The Great American BBQ Tour, a cross-country visit to some of the nation’s top barbeque festivals. Now in its second season, the big KCBS trailer will stop at 25 premier competitions and several retail locations across the U.S.

The tour will feature demonstrations of products that go great in and with world-class BBQ, including TABASCO brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce, Kingsford Competition Briquets, Weber Grill Creations, SCOTT Shop Towels and TUMS – all sponsors of the tour. KCBS barbeque championship members will also show how backyard grillers can take tips from BBQ pros for their outdoor cooking at home.

To learn more about the economic impact of barbeque events or how to sanction barbeque competitions, visit www.kcbs.us or call 1-800-963-KCBS. For more information about The Great American BBQ Tour, visit www.kcbstour.com.

SOURCE Kansas City Barbeque Society

Source: newswire

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