Festival bolsters economy

Published 1:36 am Thursday, December 21, 2017


Arts of the Pamlico’s effort to revive the East Carolina Wildlife Festival after a one-year absence is commendable, not to mention important to the area’s economy.

Aside from providing residents and tourists exposure to wildlife — from black bears to tundra swan to deer — the festival helps put money in the cash registers of merchants, lodging owners and restaurant owners. The festival also generates revenue for Washington and Beaufort County via taxes on various goods and services provided to residents and tourists alike.

In 2006, a study estimated expenditures at the 2006 festival by visitors, competitors, exhibitors and the public at $163,000. With the festival growing since 2006, those expenditures have grown with the festival, with some tourism officials indicating that impact is now around the $300,000 range.

At the 2014 festival, lines inside Bill’s Hot Dogs — sometimes snaking outside the eatery — were formidable. Downtown restaurants saw diners at each table, with other folks waiting to dine. The revenue generated by the festival comes at a good time. Traditionally, winter months are the slowest time financially for many area businesses, especially those that cater to tourists.

The festival serves an educational purpose. With its exhibits, events and programs, it exposes people, especially children, to wildlife, especially waterfowl. Such exposure provides a look at habitats of the wildlife — where and when specific species of waterfowl winter in eastern North Carolina and other places along the Eastern Seaboard.

In 2018, the revived festival will place an emphasis on its arts component. “We’re going to have a whole array of things that focus on the arts,” said Debra Torrence, AOP executive director, in a recent interview.

Wildlife education, helping the area’s economy and a focus on the arts — those are admirable goals for the revived festival to achieve.