Contact: Harold Daniel, 581- 1933; Heather McCarthy, (207) 992-2630
ORONO — The three-day American Folk Festival last year contributed $8.7 million to the Greater Bangor economy, in spite of heavy rain keeping crowds away on one of the days, according to an analysis by the University of Maine-based Center for Tourism Research and Outreach.
A report co-authored by CenTRO director Harold Daniel of the Maine Business School, graduate assistant Bernardita Silva and research associate Marilynne Mann compiled results from nearly 1,700 12-page surveys of festival goers during the three-day music and cultural event, held annually on the Bangor waterfront.
The analysis says almost 58,000 people made a total of 110,000 visits to last year’s festival. Festival organizers estimated 168,000 attended the 2008 folk festival, generating an additional $9.8 million for the Bangor area, according to a CenTRO study of the 2008 festival.
The festival supported 101 jobs last year, compared with 121 jobs the previous year, according to the report by the authors and UMaine economist Todd Gabe, who assisted with the analysis.
Other information from the surveys indicated that people who had attended previous folk festivals were older than first-time visitors, that 95 percent of the visitors said the festival met, exceeded or greatly exceeded their expectations, and that more than half of the people had viewed the American Folk Festival website prior to attending.
The surveys also showed the most popular types of music included Irish, Acadian, bluegrass, acoustic blues, New Orleans jazz and Cajun.
The report also recommends several strategies for using the festival as a method of making visitors aware of other activities and attractions in the area.
Festival Director Heather McCarthy says CenTRO’s evaluation provided additional insight to the many aspects of the festival.
“It’s very helpful to have CenTRO’s research behind our public information about the impact of the festival,” she says. “CenTRO was able to quantify that impact much better than we had been able to do on our own.”
Daniel says the surveys show just how much the festival benefits the Bangor area and the region in multiple ways.
“It does support jobs and it does support employment,” he says. “You bring $8.7 million into the area and that’s a pretty significant shot in the arm.”
CenTRO did the survey as a non-commissioned service to festival organizers, according to Daniel.