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Weather Didn’t Dampen Visitor Numbers During International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass

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Raleigh, N.C. (Oct. 26, 2015) -- Despite Mother Nature's best attempts at a washout, the International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA) World of Bluegrass (Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2015) was a success from the perspective of not only organizers but also artists, vendors and fans. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB) announced today that the week-long event generated an estimated $5.6 million in direct visitor spending for Raleigh and Wake County and welcomed more than 98,000 people.

The World of Bluegrass week included: IBMA Business Conference, the 26th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards, the Bluegrass Ramble and the two-day PNC Presents Wide Open Bluegrass and the North Carolina Pork Council's Barbecue Experience.

The 2015 Wide Open Bluegrass Main Stage and StreetFest, comprised of more than 140 bands from around the world playing a variety of styles of bluegrass along with vendors from Got to be NC, Arts Market and Shop Local Raleigh is usually held throughout the streets of downtown Raleigh but this year a rain-filled forecast caused event organizers to implement a contingency plan and transform all 500,000 sq. ft. of the Raleigh Convention Center into the "big tent" and move Wide Open Bluegrass indoors.

"The easy option would have been to adhere to the outdoor festival mantra, ‘rain or shine', and keep the event outside. In the decision-making window of 48 hours, we had not only fans to think about, but the musicians and the artisans and their instruments and artwork to protect and provide a suitable canvas for," said Laurie Okun, director of sales and marketing for the Raleigh Convention Center. "What ended up happening was a massive success, and a shift in record-making numbers-from the largest urban outdoor bluegrass festival on the planet to the largest indoor music festival to date at the Raleigh Convention Center".  

Bluegrass by the Numbers
World of Bluegrass week (Sept. 29-Oct.3) / Wide Open Bluegrass (Oct. 2-3)

Total Attendance for IBMA Business Conference, Bluegrass Ramble and Awards Show: 8,018
Total Attendance for PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass (free and ticketed events): 90,000
Total Attendance for World of Bluegrass Week (Sept. 29-Oct. 3): 98,018

Estimated Number of Visitors from Outside of Wake County: 41,700
Estimated Number of Hotel Room-Nights during World of Bluegrass Week: 15,636
Total Direct Economic Impact from Visitors during World of Bluegrass Week: $5.6 Million

"Obviously the numbers for Wide Open Bluegrass weren't as strong this year as in the past, but unfortunately we can't control the weather," said Loren Gold, executive vice president of the GRCVB. "We can hang our hat on the fact that the Raleigh Convention Center was packed throughout the weekend and anyone who was there will tell you the energy and excitement was no different than if it had been outdoors."

In addition to visitor spending, IBMA's World of Bluegrass also produced $2.1 million in earned media for Raleigh. This figure was researched and calculated using Meltwater News, a division of San Francisco-based monitoring and analytics firm Meltwater Group.

It is important to note that the $5.6 million is a conservative estimate that does not include local spending, nor does it include a multiplier of indirect or induced impacts. It represents visitor spending only, which is new money coming into the local economy

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