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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 12:00:00 AM - Monroe Ohio
The Middletown area gained $1.75 million in economic activity as a result of the August 1-3 hot air balloon festival held at Smith Park. In a report released at the Mid-Miami Valley Chamber’s Ohio Challenge committee chair wrap-up meeting on Monday evening, the results of on-site surveys revealed that an estimated 54,711 people attended the three day event.

Using a formula that takes into account spending by the guests at an event, spending by the event organizers to present the activities and spending in the area to purchase supplies for on-site vendors, area spending in stores, gas stations and service providers by guests who come and go from the area, as well as taxes, and other costs, Ohio Challenge organizers consider the business aspects as well as the family and community enjoyment benefits a high success.

Dave Pearce, chairman of Ohio Challenge’s organizing committee, said, “It was one of the most enjoyable weekends I’ve ever had and the positive economic outcome only makes the enjoyment greater. Not only was it a profitable weekend for area businesses and non-profits, but the parking revenue allows Ohio Challenge to enter the planning for the 2004 event with a balance in the bank.”

Volunteers counted those entering the grounds and asked several their home zip code number as a way to gather information used in the report. From the volunteers’ data it is estimated that guests came from 24 states, as far away as Oregon, Massachusetts, California, Florida, Minnesota and Texas. Nearly 39% gave Middletown zip codes with a total of 58% from Butler County. A total of 91% came from areas within a one-hour drive of the site and 96% came from within the state of Ohio.

A significant part of the economic impact of the event went to local businesses and non-profit organizations. Most craft and food vendors were from the immediate area. Each food booth was run by a non-profit organization or had a non-profit partner benefiting from a portion of the proceeds.

Others reporting at the meeting announced that the hot air balloon pilots were very pleased with the community response, the headquarters arrangements at the Manchester Inn and Conference Center and the launch site.

Thirty-one volunteers, including several from primary sponsor, MidFirst Credit Union, spent the weekend of the event picking up trash on site to keep the grounds clean and litter-free.

Each pilot was given registration cards to gather the names and addresses of private land owners who allowed use of their property. After the event, a card was drawn and Tony Mulligan of Carlisle was presented with a $100 gift certificate, compliments of Bern’s Garden Center.

For more information:
Ann Mort, Publicity – 513-424-2038,
or Emily Harris, Balloon Event Director - 513-422-4551
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