There are a lot of studies on the economic benefits an event such as the Lavender Festival could have on the host community. Depending on the source and motivation, these can range from an economic boost to a total bust, depending on how the event is managed and what resources are expended to make it happen. Festivals were all the rage a few years back as a necessary economic development boost for small communities. As time has passed, these sorts of festivals are viewed a little more objectively and have to be evaluated on the basis of what is expected against what is expended in the process.
The Blanco Chamber manages the Lavender Festival every year and considers it a success. As the champions of the Blanco business community, the Chamber has traditionally undertaken the thankless task of putting all the balls in play to put on the annual festival. The festival provides a nice venue for artists and vendors to set up shop downtown and serves to showcase some of Blanco’s other businesses too. It’s the time when Blanco invites visitors from surrounding areas to come and experience what we enjoy all year long.
Make no mistake - there is an undeniable economic benefit from the Lavender Festival. Historically, there is a significant revenue stream coming in as visitors enjoy the music, food, and drink that are an integral part of the festivities. Those who set up shop around the square generally have a decent payday, and local restaurants, lodgings, and other retailers usually get a nice up-tick in business. The ripple effect of that money exchange can be pretty significant, but it is certainly not a cash machine for all.
Perhaps the greatest value of the festival is it continues to develop a sense of community that has been evolving in Blanco. The Lavender Festival is not so much about lavender, as it is a celebration of the diverse fabrics that make up the economic quilt of Blanco. The local lavender farms provide the theme, but the Festival is also about the other agribusinesses, artisans, and entrepreneurs that enhance the area. The event succeeds because of the commitment of the community, the volunteers, and sponsors who provide their time and resources to make it all happen.
On the subject of volunteers, Penny Thomas, Executive Director of the Blanco Chamber, has an open casting call for volunteers to support this year’s event. “We need as much volunteer support as we can muster. It doesn’t matter if it is a couple of hours or for the entire three days, whatever help we can get will be greatly appreciated,” said Thomas. Chamber President Marcy Westcott echoed that sentiment: “It’s the volunteers who enable us to put on a safe and managed event. We can always use more help, so please contact us if you can be a part of this year’s Festival.”
In short, the Lavender Festival is not just about turning a profit. It is a reflection of what makes Blanco such a unique place to live and do business... and that is priceless. The Festival really is a statement about our sense of community. Several years ago, that sense of community was so evident at the Lavender Festival a couple of visitors decided to become a part of that community. And we are still here today.