The City of Salisbury is pleased to announce the results of the 80th National Folk Festival Economic Impact Study conducted by the Business and Economic Community Outreach Network (BEACON) at Salisbury University, suggesting nearly $19.8 million in total long-term economic impact.
This event was held September 10-12, 2021 in Downtown Salisbury, attracting approximately 91,000 attendees. This year’s event marked the third year of the National’s residency in Salisbury, as well as a signature moment in the city’s recovery from economic upheaval of the global pandemic and welcoming of audiences to enjoy the recently completed revitalization projects throughout the heart of downtown.
The $19.8 million in total long-term economic impact refers to the amount of ‘new’ money that has been infused into Salisbury’s local economy as a direct result of the festival through the spending of visitors, vendors and performers. The study also suggests that of the festival’s 91,000 attendees, 35,000 traveled to Salisbury from outside of the area, making up about 40% of the festival’s total attendance.
“While this year’s in-person festival was different than any National Folk Festival before it due to the global pandemic, the results of the economic impact study suggest how impressive the festival’s effects are, and will continue to be, on Salisbury’s local economy,” shared Mayor Jake Day. “Thank you to the teams at BEACON and Salisbury University for working with us for the third year to conduct this study.”
Over 70% of the attendees who traveled to the Salisbury metropolitan area stayed at least one night in the region in a variety of local accommodations, including hotels, rentals, and camping, with many others staying with local family and friends. New local spending by those who traveled to the area, such as money spent on accommodations, food, entertainment, gas and more, moves through our local economy, generating downstream economic activity.
Over 80% of this year’s festival attendees were repeat festivalgoers from the 79th National Folk Festival which took place in 2019 in Downtown Salisbury. As for reasons for attending the festival, attendees’ answers ranged from loving the music and arts, leisure, and enjoying the festival atmosphere to supporting the community as well as supporting diversity and culture.
In order to conduct the economic impact study, BEACON collected online survey responses throughout the festival weekend and created a visitor spending profile based on survey results. In addition to questions about travel and accommodations, visitors were asked about their favorite activities at the festival, what made their experiences memorable, and what organizers can do to improve the overall festival experience.
The City of Salisbury is always working to encourage diversity and inclusion, often using the phrase ‘All are Welcome Here.’ The City is happy to share that 85% of survey responses reported that attending this year’s National Folk Festival helped them to gain an understanding or appreciation of different cultural traditions, which is central to the festival’s mission.
The National Folk Festival is produced in partnership by the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) and the City of Salisbury. NCTA’s Executive Director Lora Bottinelli shared, “ Through its partnership with the host city, the National Folk Festival is an economic and cultural powerhouse that unites communities in renewing civic pride, strengthening community collaborations, and spurring investments in community infrastructure and long term economic development. We see in the results of the survey that the National has achieved success again, and we are proud of our work in collaboration with the City of Salisbury and the surrounding communities.”
Many festival attendees also took the weekend to explore everything that the immediate Downtown Salisbury/Wicomico area and beyond have to offer. One festivalgoer shared, “I’ve been to the National Folk Festivals in both Greensboro, NC and Richmond VA, but never while it was in Salisbury…We visited the Zoo, the Wildlife Art Museum, EVO Brewery, Blackwater NWR, the Harriet Tubman Historical Park, and a winery in addition to the time at the Folk Festival.”
Another festival attendee from the local Salisbury area responded to the survey by saying, “As a lifelong resident of Salisbury, I feel it is the best event we have ever put forth for the community.”
Read about how the survey was conducted and view a full economic impact breakdown from BEACON at https://salisbury.md/?p=53404