Columbus” Market Street Festival is more than a feel-good event.
Mississippi State University economists estimate this year”s two-day festival drew a crowd of 34,091 people, pumping millions of dollars into the local economy.
According to the study, the about 250 vendors at May”s Market Street Festival sold more than $159,274 in food, beverages, goods and services. And visitors to the festival spent an estimated $7.32 million with local merchants during the festival, with attendees coming from outside of Columbus spending about $3.66 million of that.
More than 7,000 attendees were from out of town or out of state.
“In terms of the overall advantages, I would say that the Columbus Market Street Festival provides positive benefits to Columbus and Lowndes County,” said Dr. Al Myles, MSU Extension professor and interim associate director of the Southern Rural Development Center.
Retail spending by festival goers produces about $94,811 in tax revenue for Columbus and the surrounding areas.
Myles said the purpose of these economic-impact studies is to measure “the footprint of the event, how much of a draw it has.”
“I was pleasantly surprised that the economic impact was as high as it was in addition to the total amount spent the weekend of Market Street Festival,” said Amber Murphree Brislin, director of Main Street Columbus Inc.
Columbus Main Street organizes the event, now in its 16th year, with the help of 400 volunteers.
“This just goes to show that the festival does make a significant impact on our local economy in addition to community development and quality of life,” Brislin said of the study.
Judging from the 343 surveys taken, attendees are pleased with the festival, which features various music stages, children”s activities and arts and crafts, food, clothing and other vendors.
“Comments made by survey respondents were extremely positive and supportive of the event,” the study reads.
The event also maintains impressive numbers of repeat attendees. According to the study, the average number of years festival goers have come to the event is eight years.
“It is very refreshing to see the positive results of the survey,” Brislin said. “We all work so hard for months on end to make the festival a success and although we all love it and know it is worth it, it is nice to see that in writing. It makes what we do even that much more rewarding.”
Myles was scheduled to present the study”s findings to the public at the Columbus Country Club at noon, today.