Weather largely the reason the festival had lower-than-expected attendance
The Union Events Committee met Wednesday afternoon at the Field House at Union County Stadium to take a look back at the Butts and Boogie Festival. Paul Winters, executive director of the Union County Fair Association, said that weather impacted the whole event. He said attendance for the whole week totaled around 3700 people. Heavy rains cancelled Tuesday’s opening, and rain cut things short on Wednesday night just after 8 p.m. Thursday was the best day weather-wise all week. Cold and windy weather set in Friday and Saturday. In all, gate receipts totaled around $17,000. The carnival took in around $35,000, which Winters said meant the carnival operator lost money, as it typically takes around $40,000 in receipts to break even on the carnival side. Winters said he felt there were too many games at the carnival this year as compared to the previous year. Just over 300 tickets were sold for the Lonestar concert, bringing in around $9500 in ticket sales. Along with tickets that were given away to sponsors, he said the crowd was decent, but warmer weather would have helped that, too.
Operationally, Winters said everything went over very well. He thanked the city utilities department for their work in getting things going at the fairgrounds, and he thanked Neil McKeown and the inmates for their work. He said they were able to break down the stage after the Lonestar concert in just under 4 hours, which was impressive.
On the BBQ competition side of the event, Steven Stone said that being able to operate out of one of the fair booths to sell the BBQ worked out very well, and they were able to sell all of the BBQ that was cooked. He said he knew they would lose money going into the event, as they only had 13 teams competing, compared with the ideal of 15-20 teams. Stone estimated they lost around $1200 on the event, which all in all was not as bad as it could have been, given the weather. He said they took a pretty heavy loss with the dog show, as they paid out around $1000 in purse money, but with a dozen or fewer dogs in the event, they only took in around $125 in revenue.
Winters said the livestock shows went over well, with around 20 rabbit entries, 25 pig entries, and the dairy show being the biggest. He said the Union County Livestock Association was likely to continue the show at the event.
On the food side of the event, Winters said the vendors all did decent business through the week.
Winters asked for opinions if the spring break week was the best week to hold the event. Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Shropshire mentioned the possibility of moving it to the last week in April to coincide with a travel ball tournament at the Timken Complex. He said that could build in an out-of-town audience of families looking for something to do after the ballgames. He said the first three weeks of the month are all given over to local games and events with Dixie Youth and Little League.
The group discussed fire inspections at events like this, saying the city fire inspector has cited things that some of the vendors have never been called out on at other events in places much bigger than Union. Tourism Director Curtiss Hunter said that in some cases, that has led to vendors not coming back to events in Union, and even going on social media and other places to warn other vendors not to come. She said the community cannot afford to get a bad reputation, saying they need to sit down with the fire inspector and others and see if some common ground can be reached. At a minimum, she said that the inspector needs to have a list of the codes and things that need to be followed, so that the groups in charge of events could send it to the vendors to head off last-minute problems.
Hunter also said that changes need to be made at the fairgrounds and stadium complex to where alcohol could be served at certain events such as concerts. She said if changes aren’t made to the way things operate, the space will not be able to be utilized to the fullest extent that it could.