Truckee Thursdays’ 400-plus percent attendance growth highlights financial success, safety concerns | SierraSun.com

Truckee Thursdays’ 400-plus percent attendance growth highlights financial success, safety concerns

Josh Staab | jstaab@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — If a festival's success can be measured by the sum of its parts, then Truckee Thursdays organizers appear to be moving in the right direction.

That was the general consensus reached during the June 9 Truckee Town Council meeting.

However, as the event has grown and become more successful, so has the need to focus on safety — and the growing cost to provide additional town resources, event coordinators said.

Truckee Thursdays organizers with the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association say the eighth annual event will enjoy a net income of $53,000 this summer.

“It’s become a signature event of the community. I think folks look forward to it every summer.”Alex TerazzasTown of Truckee Assistant Manager

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TDMA Executive Director Cassie Hebel noted this year's projection is similar to last year, due to commitments to other projects, as well as knowing the event's expenses would be increasing due to growing attendance.

In the event's 2015 budget, TDMA projects a gross income of more than $137,000. However, $84,000 is planned in expenses — including entertainment and event staffing, which accounts for $47,000, as well as parking, police and public works requirements from the town.

"It's a community-wide event (and) we see locals and out-of-towners coming together to enjoy downtown Truckee," said assistant town manager Alex Terrazas. "We have seen the crowd growing year over year."

MASSIVE GROWTH

According to a report from Terrazas, with Truckee Thursdays' inaugural run in 2008, the event drew about 5,000 attendees over 10 weeks.

In 2015, Terrazas said TDMA is expecting as many as 2,500 people each day — meaning more than 27,000 people could attend Truckee Thursdays this year over 11 weeks.

"It's become a signature event of the community," Terrazas said. "I think folks look forward to it every summer."

With the increase in popularity, this year's estimated costs to the town will nearly double to $23,000, according to the report, a $13,600 year-over-year increase.

At the June 9 meeting, TDMA requested a one-time expenditure of $12,000 in town economic development funds to help defray that cost.

Whether for equipment rentals, insurance, printing services, advertising and marketing, the event employs more than 10 people, all Truckee residents, and contracts with 20 entertainment acts, Hebel noted in a letter to town council.

"It is our No. 1 revenue source for the organization and is the primary funding to pay for all of the items included on that letter to the council," Hebel said.

Citing the event's positive response from attendees and how much the town and businesses benefit from downtown dollars spent, council members found no objection to approving TDMA's $12,000 expenditure request.

"I am incredibly impressed to see the actual dollar success, to see it is making $53,000 in profit," said town council member and vice mayor Joan deRyk Jones.

SAFETY CONCERNS

As crowds grow, Hebel said, so too do safety and security concerns among downtown businesses, public officials and residents on neighboring streets lined with parked cars.

The town's approval of TDMA's permit to conduct Truckee Thursdays this year came with increased safety conditions, including relocating the beer garden, limiting access to it to those 21 years or older, and requiring the sale of beer to end at 8 p.m.

Further, music will cease at 8:15 p.m. in order for the entire event to end at 8:30 p.m. as opposed to 9 p.m.

"The earlier end time will allow for attendees to safely exit the downtown area while there is still daylight," according to the town.

As attendance continues to grow, town council and TDMA will address the growing parking issue, something council members referred to as the "ugly thing."

"It may be a difficult summer from a parking standpoint," Jones said.

If participation goes down as a result of a lack of parking and accessibility this summer, council members will look at options and alternatives for next year.

Mayor Alicia Barr noted it is an issue that shouldn't wait until next year.

"I don't think we need to wait for the ugly thing to rear its head," Barr said. "We can start that conversation now."

By the numbers

5,000: Rough attendance of 2008 Truckee Thursdays (10 weeks)

27,000+: Estimated attendance of 2015 event (11 weeks)

Source: Town of Truckee/TDMA

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If you go

The next Truckee Thursdays event is scheduled for 5-8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18. The main music act this week is the Jeff Jones Trio. Visit truckeethursdays.com to learn more.

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Upcoming lineup

Below is the upcoming main stage music lineup for this year’s Truckee Thursdays:

June 18: Jeff Jones Trio

June 25: Junk Parlor

July 2: Jo Mama

July 9: Free Peoples

July 16: The Brothers Stout

July 23: McKenna Faith

July 30: Bazooka Zoo

Aug. 6: The Hooten Hallers

Aug. 13: Steven Roth

Aug. 20: Con Brio