By Aisha Sander
Town residents were not surprised to learn that the estimated attendance for the 31st annual Fall Festival was 25,000 – 30,000 people, with Saturday being its all time busiest day in 31 years at 20 thousand people.
Perfect weather, new vendors, a great line up of musicians and extensive marketing by The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance (SAACA) attracted scores of new people to experience Patagonia’s special beauty and hospitality during the weekend. There were over 125 vendors participating in the event. SAACA is still gathering data from the vendors about total sales from the weekend, but early reports indicate that they had record-breaking sales with some vendors selling out of stock.
SAACA’s Director of Operations, Shelby Scheer, said “The beautiful fall weather, outstanding musical acts, support of the Town of Patagonia and local businesses contributed to the all time record-breaking attendance that solidifies the Patagonia Fall Festival as the preeminent arts and music festival in Southeastern Arizona.”
The Town of Patagonia received $10 per temporary business license and other benefits as the in-kind host venue. The Town also receives 3% of the state sales tax from all sales over the weekend.
Local businesses reported their highest sales ever during a Fall Festival. Some had their all-time best day ever. Bonnie MacLean, the owner of Ovens of Patagonia, reported that her business did better than it ever has for a weekend of sales. MacLean, who is also President of Sky Island Tourist Association (SITA), said “SAACA did a bang-up job and a good percentage of the people who came this year had never come to Patagonia before. Introducing new people to the area is a top priority for SITA.”
Maclean said she would like to see greater coordination between the town, local businesses and SAACA for next year because of the large crowds coming to the event.