Sports and recreation brought millions of dollars into the local economy in 2015, but the Toadlick Music Festival had a greater impact than any single event.
According to numbers compiled by the Dothan Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Toadlick had a direct economic impact of $1.29 million. The additional money into the economy generates additional commerce, and the CVB estimates an indirect economic impact of $3.22 million from the music festival.
The festival was credited with 4,440 total room nights over the course of the event, either in local hotels or camping/RV spaces. It is the only event that eclipsed the $1 million mark in direct economic impact. Dothan’sFuture Masters Golf Tournament had the second-highest direct impact at $456,000.
“The numbers are great to see, coming from outside of Toadlick, because this is something we have been screaming from the highest mountain, what an economic engine this is,” Toadlick festival organizer Chris Gilbert said.
The impact is significant despite another year in which the festival was plagued by weather. A strong storm wiped out several acts last year. This year, the festival will be held in early June to take advantage of what Gilbert hopes will be calmer weather.
“Toadlick covers the whole gamut,” said Bob Hendrix, executive director of the Dothan Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We get inquiries all the time on our website and through social media.”
Hunt’s Restaurant owner Tim Reeves said business booms during the festival.
“It’s loaded up,” Reeves said. “Not everyone comes for every act, so people leave and they go eat and they come back. They get out and about. People get a lot of business out of it.”
The festival receives $10,000 from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, slightly less than the CVB expects to receive from the event from its portion of the lodging tax.
Meanwhile, nearby music festivals are expanding. After Bama Jam in Enterprise closed down, Panama City began to host Gulf Coast Jam on Labor Day Weekend. The success of Gulf Coast Jam has led Panama City to add a second music festival, Spring Jam, in late March and early April.
The Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC) board voted last August to allocate $375,000 each year over the next three years to Gulf Coast Jam. The TDC estimates an economic impact of $15.5 million for the area. It also pledged $1.7 million to launch Spring Jam.
Toadlick will be held June 2-4. Headline acts areAlabama and Kid Rock. Gilbert said the entire lineup is about 75 percent complete.
Hendrix said 2016 will bring an event to Dothan that will rival Toadlick. Between 3,500 and 6,000 people are expected to attend or participate in a national BMX event at Westgate Park. The three-day event will be the first of its kind for Dothan. The CVB estimates an indirect economic impact of $2.1 million for Dothan.
Though the National Peanut Festival is one of the largest events in Dothan each year, taking place over nine days, the CVB does not collect data on the festival's economic impact.