Twice per year a dedicated group of staff and volunteers execute the largest art fairs in the Southwest. The Great Fair and Fountain Festival are signature events for the Chamber and the Town of Fountain Hills. While the Chamber holds sole responsibility for marketing, financing, setup and teardown of the fairs, our Town’s leadership frequently references the art fairs as important economic drivers and speak favorably about the benefits of special events–including the fairs–for our Town.
Leading up to the fairs, the Chamber’s phones are flooded with calls with questions ranging from artists looking for hotels–we recommend them to members first–to visitors who plan their vacations around the fair dates each year. From young to seasoned, our fair-goers seek out some of the most unique creations available in the United States.
From brats, pizza and beer to thai cuisine, barbecue and desserts, the nearly twenty food vendors provide a wide array of culinary delights. Several local organizations, including the Rotary, Kiwanis and VFW sell food as a means to raise funds that are reinvested in local programs. These dedicated volunteers are passionate about raising money for student scholarships, less fortunate people and local community projects and they are proud about keeping it in Fountain Hills.
Artists flock to Fountain Hills and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on food, gas, lodging and any other necessity needed during their stay. Each pays a business license fee and the appropriate taxes to the State of Arizona and the Town of Fountain Hills. Thanks to a streamlined collaboration between the Town and Chamber staff, we reached and have maintained 100% participation starting in November of 2015.
While many businesses capitalize on the visitors from the fairs, sometimes having an art fair outside of your store front is challenging. People may inadvertently park where they should not or possibly block your regular customers from conveniently entering your company’s office. I would be annoyed at this too.
I would like to suggest viewing this in a larger context. Let me explain. Last fall there was a big hullaballoo about the paving of Saguaro. It was difficult for some businesses and many local owners voiced their complaints to the Chamber, Town staff and Council. However, now the road is complete and visitors have an easier entrance to the Town center and to your store. No longer do we need to dodge potholes to enter Fountain Hills. The road makes us look attentive to our appearance, modern and provides a better opportunity for drivers and passengers to notice your business, the scenery and, of course, the world famous fountain. At a minimum, the road construction was inconvenient and for others it was costly due to a reduction in sales. Yet today we have a beautiful pathway into Town and it was completed on time and prior to the 2015-2016 visitor season.
The same holds true for the fairs. Let’s say a visitor comes to the fair and falls in love with Fountain Hills. He/She may then look for a local realtor to buy a home, shop in the grocery stores, get haircuts, find a local doctor, use a nearby veterinarian and even talk with one of the many financial investors and insurance agents located in our Town.
There’s no easy way to track the path of these people, but we do know that our baby boomer residents are more likely to stop-by a local office instead of calling a 1-800 number. They prefer having a local relationship with a close-by agent. Further, most residents in any town frequently want their doctor, dentist, insurance agent and the like to be nearby. If you own a local service business, there’s a greater chance that a fair-goer now turned resident will stop-in and you will have the opportunity to earn new business or transfer an existing company relationship.
We’re all in this together. It’s the combination of events, residents, businesses and our cherished winter visitors that make the Town budget balance and create a unique place to live, work and play. I hope you enjoyed The Great Fair this past weekend and found some new customers from it.