Report: 2022 Maple Festival generates up to $2M in direct spending

Time for Highland County Maple Festival
Time for Highland County Maple Festival
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 3:28 PM EST
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HIGHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ/Highland County Chamber of Commerce Release) - Key findings about the 2022 Highland County Maple Festival have been released in an Economic Impact Report created by Virginia Tech, including that the festival generated between $1.36 and $2.02 million in direct spending in Highland County.

Read the full report at the bottom of this story.

About 26,500 visitors attended in 2022, according to the report. Visitors spent between $73.18 and $105.76 on average, and on average traveled 98 miles to attend the festival. 85% were from Virginia, although visitors from 14 states attended. More than 70% of visitors were repeat festival attendees, and returning visitors had on average attended the festival 13 times. More than 90% of visitors said they are planning to attend the festival again. 73% of visitors were interested in visiting the area during another season.

“The Chamber is excited to have reliable concrete data from this report, and it reinforces what the Highland County community has known for so long: the Maple Festival is special in the hearts of so many, and it is critical to the local economy,” says Chris Swecker, Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce. “The information in this report will be used to help us improve the festival for future years, apply for potential grants, and to just plain celebrate all the hard work that goes in to holding this annual county-wide event.”

The Highland County Maple Festival raised awareness about maple syrup production, according to the report. Almost 78% of respondents reported they had learned at least a “moderate amount” about maple syrup during their visit. In addition, 20% of visitors learned about the difference between real and artificial maple syrup. Only 67.51% of respondents had purchased maple syrup in the year leading up to the festival, and 88.37% of respondents said they would maybe or definitely plan to purchase maple syrup after visiting the festival.

In conclusion, the reports states: “The educational, cultural, and economic value of this event makes it a vital part of the maple-syrup industry in Western Virginia. The festival serves as a way to foster new interest in maple syrup production and using forests in responsible ways that help people while still protecting the land. The Highland County Maple Festival showcases the value of agritourism as a way to create new long-term customers for farmers, as an educational experience for visitors, and as an economic boost for the surrounding community.”

The report was created by Virginia Tech with support from the Highland County Chamber of Commerce and Future Generations University. Data were gathered from surveys conducted during the event with visitors and vendors.

The 2023 Maple Festival is scheduled for March 11 – 12 and 18 – 19, 2023. Information about the event will be updated at highlandcounty.org/maple-festival, with posts highlighting the festival available at facebook.com/HighlandCounty as the event draws closer.