While the numbers are not all in yet, it’s a safe bet that the 2009 Lavender Fest far exceeded those of all previous years. This weekend Blanco donned its Lavender suit again and demonstrated why it has earned the title “Lavender Capital of Texas.”
From Friday through Sunday, downtown was bustling with activity. The courthouse grounds were converted into an outdoor bazaar, where everything from local arts and crafts to every imaginable lavender product could be found under white canvas. Good food, good music and the, always popular, wine and beer tasting added to the festive atmosphere.
As Lavender Days has evolved, it has become one of the premier Hill Country events for good reason. Planning, effective marketing and, most importantly, a remarkable group of dedicated citizens have made Lavender Days a destination that folks are already marking on next June’s calendar. The flow of visitors was continual and they came from all points on the compass to join in the celebration. It was also worth noting how many festival volunteers were drawn in from places beyond Blanco County in addition to the local crowd. .
There were some noteworthy changes this year. Starting off on Friday and extending the farm tours through the entire month of June provided better opportunity for visitors to tour local farms and experience what Blanco has to offer. This year’s brochure was a delightful and informative piece worthy of keeping and showing off to friends. And there were other little things, for example, extending the tent space for the wine and beer tasting, that combined to make the experience as comfortable as one could expect for June in Texas. Clearly there will always be room to improve, and the active surveying that was going on showed that process was in place.
It is hard to quantify the economic impact of a weekend like this, but it is significant. Julie Dill, Executive Director of the Blanco Chamber of Commerce, made a rough estimate that around twelve thousand visitors came to town or visited the surrounding farms. The Chamber will soon total up their books for what it took to put on the show, and an early snapshot of what that might show was provided by Marcy Westcott, who noted that the entire stock of souvenir wine- and beer-tasting glasses was long gone by Saturday afternoon.
Another clue might be the broad smiles on the face of local businesses owners such as Liz Waller of “On the Square.” A lot of merchandise changed hands over the weekend and the waiting list at Uptown Blanco never seemed to ease up, but perhaps the biggest measure of success went beyond what was rung up on cash registers. The Blanco community was on display this weekend, and local folks could take some justifiable pride in how that was presented.
While this event highlighted the emerging Lavender industry in Blanco, it also showcased the wealth of committed citizens and friends who are proud to call this part of the Hill Country home. Lavender is a unique niche Blanco has carved out for itself, and it is one part of the diverse quilt that makes up the Blanco community. If there is any bad news to report from this weekend, it might be that the standard has been set a whole lot higher for next year.