The Montana Folk Festival in Butte kicks off tonight. This year is its 10th anniversary, and it’s a significant boost to the Copper city’s economy.
Earlier today, staff at the Uptown Cafe were busy preparing for the expected dinner rush. Mary McAlexander, the manager said, “Business for us quadruples on this weekend from what it would normally be, so we love it.”
Festival organizers say the event is expected to bring in 150,000 people over the weekend. And while the event is free, George Everett with Mainstreet Uptown Butte - an organization that focuses on community revitalization - says the festival has a big economic impact on the historic mining city and the state.
“For every dollar we spend, we estimate that about $25 dollars comes back into the economy, whether it’s local or beyond us in Montana," Everett says.
Keeping the event free means that people have more money to spend on hotels, food, and trips to nearby communities and attractions, Everett says.
“It’s a great draw in-between the (national) parks, and we try to market it that way for people coming from out of state," Everett says. "We invite them to come and visit Yellowstone and Glacier, but check out the Folk Festival in between and that results in people staying longer in Montana, spending more money.”
Everett recognizes that not all of the city’s businesses are thrilled when the Folk Festival rolls around each year.
“But overall the impact is pretty substantial, even for them," he says. "You know, it might be a furniture business, and they might look at it and say, ‘Well, I’m not going to sell any couches now.’ But sure enough the people who do make the money - the bars, the restaurants - they’re going to go buy furniture after they make a lot of money off the festival. It’s a rising tide that helps all ships.”
Maria Pochervina is the Executive Director of the Butte Convention and Visitors Bureau. Pochervina agrees with Everett that the festival is good for Butte businesses.
“I’m a business owner in Uptown Butte as well so I really see an uptick in sales this weekend," Pochervina says. "I think that everyone does better.”