Music to our ears

Soundcheck series pays off for Pinedale business sector

PINEDALE – The Soundcheck Summer Music Series is not only generating cool music in the park but also the cool rustle of cash in area merchants’ cash registers.

That’s according to the Pinedale Fine Arts Council, or PFAC, which presented its numbers from the 2017 season at the Monday, Sept. 25, meeting of the Pinedale Town Council.

The numbers presented by PFAC Executive Director Kari DeWitt and marketing and outreach director Tim Ruland show that 4,834 people attended this year’s series of six shows, or almost exactly the 5,000 that PFAC was anticipating before the summer. Importantly, DeWitt said, PFAC and its volunteers managed to survey about half of those who attended to get real data about what they are spending in Pinedale.

And that’s where PFAC’s estimates of early this year were way off the mark – in a good way.

What PFAC had been estimating ahead of time is that 2,550 attendees would eat locally at $25 per person, spending a total of $63,750; that 800 would stay at a local hotel at $75 per room for 400 rooms, or $30,000; and that 2,200 would shop locally, dropping $10 per person or $22,000. That would have amounted to a respectable $115,750 in spending in the Pinedale community.

Instead, DeWitt said, what the survey actually showed is that 3,068 people ate locally, spending $76,700 if they spent that same estimated $25 per person; 1,998 attendees stayed at a local hotel, generating $74,925 if they spent that same estimated $75 per room for 999 rooms; and 4,439 attendees shopped locally, spending $34,390 at that same conservative estimate of $10 per person. That’s total spending from those attending the 2017 Soundcheck series of $186,015.

DeWitt called that a pretty good “return on investment” for the $22,366 the town of Pinedale contributed to help PFAC carry out the Soundcheck series. The money comes from the town’s lodging tax.

Mayor Bob Jones took issue later with the term “return on investment,” telling the Pinedale Roundup the city actually gets very little back in the way of tax dollars for what it spends on the music series. But Jones said it is money well spent for what it does for the community and the business sector.

The survey also showed that 2,198 attendees were from out of Sublette County. DeWitt said they are coming not only from elsewhere in Wyoming but also from Montana, Idaho, Utah and Colorado.

“I think after 10 years, we’ve finally reached the point where people know about this and they’re planning on coming,” she said.

The concert series is clearly in growth mode. Figures from the Pinedale Fine Arts Council show the Soundcheck concert series attracted 1,130 people in 2014; 2,600 in 2015; 4,400 in 2016; and 4,834 in 2017.

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