Officials expect increase in Bootfest beer sales
Oct. 2, 2013 at 5:02 a.m.
Updated Oct. 3, 2013 at 5:03 a.m.
Bring your boots, but be sure to bring your koozies to Bootfest this weekend.
Event organizers project beer sales and merchandise for this weekend's country music festival to increase about $10,000 over last year.
While the Saturday night headliner, Jerrod Niemann, has a new single called "Drink to That All Night," the increase in beer sales this year could help the festival break even.
Mayor Paul Polasek said he hopes to see the festival earn as much as was invested.
"It would be nice if it became self-sustaining in the future," Polasek said. "The idea is to attract visitors to our community and provide a cultural, entertainment event."
City spokesman O.C. Garza said Bootfest sits apart from other festivals in the region because it is free to everyone.
"If you're willing to wait in line, you can do it all for free," he said, minus beverages and food.
Beer and merchandise sales are expected to generate $167,000; an increase of $10,000 over last year's festival.
The city's $100,000 funding covers about a third of the festival's $284,000 price tag this year. The rest comes from donations, beverage sales and fees on vendors' booths, said Convention and Visitor Bureau Director LaRue Roth.
"Based on the interest we're seeing on our website and Facebook page, we have every reason to believe we'll have as many people as last year," Roth said. "It's just the right festival in the right city at the right time."
Last year's event cost $223,939, but with employee overtime, the cost reached about $278,000, according to the city's financial statements.
Overall, the city's influence on the arts remains strong this year.
Earlier this year, the City Council voted to spend $1.9 million in hotel occupancy tax dollars, of which, $100,000 went to Bootfest, and $562,000 went to support Victoria arts, sports and history groups.
As mayor, Polasek said he has heard positive comments from the public in response to the third annual Bootfest.
While he recognizes the city has other needs - including residential street repairs - this money can only be used to promote tourism because it comes from a tax on hotel guests.
He said he wants to see the amount of city funding stay the same.
However, if the festival breaks even or the revenues grow, his opinion could change.
"Each year, we're closer to breaking even," he said. "It's nice for the community to have an event like this."
Roth said the festival has become a strong marketing tool for the community and is starting to build a reputation.
"Bootfest is the ideal buzz-vehicle for Victoria," she said. "It's not our whole story, but it puts us on the cool-meter."
She said filling hotel rooms is a goal, but she wants to look at the long-term benefits of the two-day festival.
"Victoria is decades behind the tourism-marketing game," she said, and building a marketing program doesn't happen overnight.
"I think we're making a lot of progress," Roth said.
The event opens at 5 p.m. Friday with a full lineup of musical acts, including Bill Pekar and the Rainey Brothers, of Shiner, and the Turnpike Troubadours, of Oklahoma.
The festival reopens at 10 a.m. Saturday with a washer tournament, car show, children's activities and the first musical act, Sarah Rivas, starting at 11 a.m.