Highland County Maple Festival Generated Around $2 Million in 2022


This is Chris Swecker, Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.

The Highland County Maple Festival has been a staple for over sixty years here in Highland County, since 1959.  And our residents, as well as people beyond the county, all across the country and sometimes even outside of the country, know that it’s a special event and that it makes a big impact.  Now, one thing that we’ve lacked is having some solid data to back up the impact that we know that the festival makes.

So, we’re very excited now to present the results of an Economic Impact Study that was conducted at the 2022 Maple Festival.  This study was conducted and the report was created by Virginia Tech with support from the Chamber and Future Generations University.  Data was gathered from surveys conducted during the festival over its four days with visitors and vendors.  We’re going to present to you some of the key highlights from that study.

The main key findings from this Economic Impact Report is that the festival generated between $1.36 and $2.02 million dollars in direct spending in Highland County.  And that is quite the effort, but with all of the community organizations and businesses, restaurants, people getting gas, all the vendors, all of that adds up to $1.36 to $2.02 million dollars in direct spending in Highland County.

About 26,500 visitors attended in 2022.  Visitors spent between $73.18 and $105.76 on average.  One of the more intriguing facts that I found was that visitors, on average, traveled 98 miles to attend the festival.  Eighty five percent were from Virginia, although visitors from fourteen states attended in 2022.   And over 70% of visitors were repeat festival attendees and returning visitors had, on average, attended the festival thirteen times.   Over 90% of visitors said they were planning to attend the festival again and then 73% of visitors are interested in visiting the area during another time of the season.

The top three favorite activities of visitors included sampling maple products at 42%, visiting with our arts and crafts vendors at 23% and learning about maple syrup at 21%.  Speaking about learning about maple syrup, the festival does raise awareness about maple syrup production, which we are obviously hopeful and not too surprised about, but almost 78% of respondents reported that they had learned at least a moderate amount about maple syrup production during their visit and 20% of the visitors actually learned about the difference between real and artificial maple syrup.

Fifty nine percent of visitors heard about the festival through word of mouth.  The report also states that the educational, cultural, and economic value of this event makes it a vital part of the maple syrup industry in western Virginia.  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 to the surrounding communities.  The festival serves as a way to foster new interest in maple syrup production in using forests in responsible ways to help people while still protecting the land.

So, we have a lot more statistics beyond what I’ve talked about in this radio report, but if you’d like the full Economic Impact Report, as well as a simple one page highlight summary, that is available for view on our Maple Festival website, that’s at www.highlandcounty.org/maple-festival   We are also happy to send you the report, if you email us at director@highlandcounty.org or call us at 540-468-2550.

For Allegheny Mountain Radio, this is Chris Swecker.

To view the one page highlight summary of the Economic Impact Report, click the link below.

– Highland County Economic Impact Analysis – SUMMARY

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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