Coronavirus: Loss of events creates ‘huge’ financial blow

Some of the region’s most beloved and largest annual festivities are taking a financial blow as they’ve been forced to postpone or cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

World A’Fair International Festival and Dayton Art Institute’s Art Ball have said they will reschedule for later this year.

“When we do host this prestigious community event, we want our guests to enter the museum doors with excitement and a sense of safety,” said Michael Roediger, CEO of the DAI. “We want to welcome our members and guests back with open arms.”

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World A’Fair, scheduled for May 15-17, has been postponed to October.

The Art Ball was set for June 13 and a new date has not been determined. The event, which museum leaders said netted $169,564 in revenue in 2019 and is their second biggest fundraiser, likely will be rescheduled to late fall.

Winter Guard International championship set for April was one of the first large Dayton events to get cancelled because of coronavirus.

“These are unprecedented times for all of us. We fully support our state and local officials, making these decisions for the health of our community and visitors,” Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau President Jacquelyn Powell said.

Winter Guard championships bring 60,000 visitors and almost $20 million in revenue over the two weekends.

“Most of our large events through July, through December have not cancelled,” said Cathy Petersen, director of digital marketing and media relations for the Dayton Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Like everybody, we’re looking day by day.”

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That for now includes the Vectren Dayton Air Show. It is scheduled for June 27-28 and has an estimated $3.7 million impact on the region’s economy, according to the Dayton-Montgomery C0unty Convention and Visitors Bureau. The total takes into consideration additional business to area hotels, restaurants and anything in the region where people are coming into town for the show and stimulating the economy.

“The Vectren Dayton Air Show is planning to hold the 2020 show as scheduled on June 27th and 28th,” according to the Air Show’s website. “There are no plans to cancel the event. The show will monitor the coronavirus situation closely, staying in regular contact with federal and state agencies, health organizations, and other experts.”

However, for some seasonal festivals in Dayton’s surrounding communities like the Troy Strawberry Festival, the tradition — and revenue — will have to wait for 2021. The event was scheduled for June 6-7 but has been canceled.

“It’s huge, (the impact),” said Kathi Roetter, executive director of Troy Area Chamber of Commerce. “The festival brings anywhere from 150,000 to 175,000 people during that weekend to the city of Troy. We feel the impact of the Strawberry Festival long after that weekend because people come back and shop at our downtown shops and come to our restaurants. So we’re going to take a big hit.”

The Strawberry Festival was established as a fundraising venue for local nonprofit organizations in 1977 and the cancellation means many of the organizations are without their biggest annual fundraiser.

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“Right now, what the Strawberry Festival board is trying to do is just kind of see what this looks like for the rest of the summer,” Roetter said. “We’re hoping that some of our other local events will still be able to run. So our hope with that is we might be able to partner with them and get some of our nonprofits involved with those festivals or events so that they still have an opportunity to fund raise.”

The latest tourism economic impact data provided by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, reported a $1.97 billion economic impact from tourism sales in Montgomery County in 2017.

The study defined tourism as a diverse composite of activities, including transportation, recreation, retail, lodging, and food and beverage sectors.

The cancelled Hamvention in Xenia was a giant hit to Greene County and the entire Miami Valley region. It has an estimated $30 million financial impact to the region, according to Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson. About half of the total would have been spent in the county.

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Fans of amateur radio equipment, technology, computer software and hardware and hard-to-find radio and computer equipment head to Hamvention every year to explore more than 3,000 indoor and outdoor exhibits.

“It is a huge loss to the county and region,” Huddleson said. “The (county) commissioners were extremely disappointed this major event had to be canceled, but they completely understand the need to put the safety of people ahead of dollars.”

Other cancellations have so far included the Wright State International Festival, the Yellow Springs June Street Fair, the Bellbrook Sugar Maple Festival, St. Brigid Parish Festival and Spring Fest in the Burg.

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“I would just remind people that now, more than ever, it’s important to support community, whether nonprofits or small businesses,” Roetter said. “Since we’ve moved to downtown (Troy) in 2014, many of our small businesses downtown have record numbers that weekend.”

Strawberry Festival might be cancelled — but Roetter said berries will still be front and center in Troy, even if the community does not get to gather to celebrate them.

“We’re also still working with Fulton Farms because they do still have strawberries as of last Friday when we canceled,” Roetter said. “We’re going to be working with them to make sure people are going and picking berries … they did say it looked like it was going to be a great crop.”

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