Steve's Soapbox

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Texas Festival Attendance: Who's counting and what methods are being employed ?

What would please you in Abilene street event?
By Janet Van Vleet
October 30, 2005

Abilene's a great place to live, with wonderful people and loads of fun events.
But Abilene event organizers say the problem is getting those wonderful people to attend.
Celinda Emison, the Reporter-News Brownwood reporter, and I recently sat down with Ruby Perez and Jackie Love from the Abilene Preservation League to discuss my column about the Brownwood Reunion (Sept. 25). Perez wanted to know how to get attendance numbers here like those that Brownwood gets for its Reunion.
The preservation league sponsors the second Abilene Founders' Day (formerly Celebration Abilene!), which comes around again April 8. This year, along with the name change, came the decision to shrink the event from three days to one to limit costs and focus on one day.
The Brownwood Reunion drew more than 20,000 people over three days. On Sept. 17 alone, the number of people topped 10,000, said Randee Green, Reunion executive director.
Attendance at Celebration Abilene in 2004 was about 7,500 for the three-day event, with 1,500 at a concert featuring country singer Tracy Lawrence, Perez said. Because there was no admission fee, the attendance numbers for this year's first Founders' Day are uncertain, although the concert featuring country acts the Eli Young Band, Tommy Alverson and Cooder Graw attracted about 1,500.
The Brownwood Reunion was the brainchild of Roy Spence Jr., a Brownwood native and founder of GSD&M marketing firm in Austin. He wanted to launch the best small-town Web site, Green said. The Reunion features live Web cams throughout the venue.
''He wanted an avenue to drive people to it, to highlight it,'' she said. ''What came out of it was a great event for the community.''
The organizers made it a truly community event. They created a group of more than 100 people affiliated with various Brownwood businesses and organizations who work on the event annually. The monthly meetings are like pep rallies, with everyone pumping each other up.
But the most important thing organizers did was involving an even larger part of the community.
The volunteers for this year numbered more than 700. The first year, the community voted on a slogan (''Brownwood, Texas, feels like home''.). This year, people voted on the main concert headliner (Gary Allan topped Jo Dee Messina). Also new this year was the Reunion Idol contest, a local talent contest a la ''American Idol.''
Because of the effort to keep the community involved, the people of Brownwood feel they own this event.
Perez would like to hear from you, the residents of Abilene. What would make Founders' Day an event not to be missed? What kind of musical acts do you want to see? The tried-and-true Big Country favorite - country music? Or maybe a rock band, classic rock or jazz and blues?
Call Perez at (325) 676-3775, Ext. 1,, drop an e-mail to or send a letter to P.O. Box 3451, Abilene 79604 and make Founders' Day a real Abilene event.
Contact arts/entertainment writer Janet Van Vleet at or 676-6740.
Comparing festival #'s across the state:
  • read more here...

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    Nations fairs seem to dip in attendance, but still find silver linings
    Pam Sherborne
    Amusement Today

    The high price of fuel and the increase in insurance costs were issues going into the 2005 fair season.
    It hasn't helped that the weather, in some cases, hasn't cooperated.
    We had a complete wash-out on one day, said Peter Cappuccillia, director, New York State Fair, Syracuse. That
    led to a lowest one-day record of 32,000. The New York State Fair, which ran from Aug. 25-Sept.5, reported a decrease in over-all attendance this year, from 960,145 compared to 998,000 last year. But, they weren't alone.

    Of 16 of some of the nations top fairs which began their runs at the first of August, only three reported increases in
    attendances. Most reported dips even though some were slight.

    read the entire article here:
    " Why you shouldn't rely on people with a political stake in the outcome to provide your crowd estimates. "

  • read more here...