WinterWonderGrass encourages tourism in the off-season
Squaw Valley hosted its fifth annual WinterWonderGrass Festival with three days of live bluegrass music welcoming visitors from across the country.
The festival which takes place in Squaw, Colorado and now Vermont is sponsored by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association each year as a way to attract tourists in the shoulder season.
“We do have a robust event strategy,” said Liz Bowling, director of communications with the association. “Our goal is to not bring more people here when it’s already busy. Our goal is to make sure we’re bridging the gap on that shoulder season.”
The festival sold out on Friday and Saturday and was at 98 percent occupancy on Sunday according to Amber Burke, the marketing and events manager for the resort association.
In 2018, the festival sold 4,900 tickets. According to a resort association survey 83 percent of those in attendance last year were out of town visitors with an average night stay of 3.1 nights
The data is collected each year by resort association representatives to understand why people attend the event and where they came from.
“That allows us to have a really good grasp on the profile of people that are attending,” said Bowling. “To make sure we’re making the right investments.”
Bowling said of all the people she talked to at the festival this year, 80 percent were from out of town.
“That’s what we’re looking to do is push those destination visitors,” said Bowling. “That’s what these events do. It gives people a reason to be here and experience all that North Lake Tahoe can offer,” she said.
By encouraging out-of-town visitors to attend a multi-day event, Burke said local lodging will profit from overnight stays.
“Our main focus is out of market,” said Burke. “We really push for the Bay Area and Southern California audience.”
Along with WinterWonderGrass, the resort association sponsors other events that pull in visitors during the shoulder seasons like the Autumn Food and Wine festival and sporting events like the Spartan World Championship which Burke said would not be in the region without their support.
“Some of our funds go into ensuring that events like that are in this region during these time frames,” she said.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.