The buzz around Buena Vista about the inaugural Live Nation concert, Seven Peaks Music Festival, is undeniably positive. From city staff to the chamber of commerce to local businesses, most said the multi-day event went smoothly and the community experienced an increased number of tourists and a resulting boost in commerce.
Phillip Puckett, Buena Vista town administrator, said overall the town is satisfied with the event’s organization and preparation as well as the event’s success.
“Live Nation delivered on a great event, and the impacts to the town of BV were primarily positive,” said Puckett. “The traffic plan worked well by not clogging up the highway. The town was well prepared on the security emergency services front, and there were only minor incidents in town. There seemed to be a decent amount of concertgoers in town shopping and exploring during the day on Saturday and Sunday.”
The venue, The Meadows, is the same location where the Vertex Music Festival was held two years ago but had new regulations and schedules as a result of citizen feedback following Vertex. Puckett said the Live Nation crew deemed the festival an overwhelming success. Following a meeting to discuss feedback and overall flow of the event, the town will consider the possibility of future concerts or festivals held in the same manner and capacity.
Puckett said it’s difficult to determine the Seven Peaks Festival concert’s exact impact on commerce because Labor Day weekend is typically a very busy time for Buena Vista businesses.
“Several businesses have shared that it was an outstanding weekend. I’ve also heard from a couple of businesses that reported a decrease in sales compared to previous years on the same weekend. It will be telling when our August and September sales tax reports come out,” he said.
Puckett said after the city meets with county officials and Live Nation, he’ll share the resulting feedback, including suggestions regarding water usage and improved traffic flow.
Local business owner Lenny Eckstein of Deerhammer Distilling Company said business was brisk although he agreed that Labor Day Weekend is always a busy time.
“The increase in foot traffic and sales was undeniable on Sunday. Deerhammer was up 50 percent over the same day last year. Friday and Saturday were fairly standard for Labor Day weekend sales,” Eckstein said. “Here’s the thing though, we have yet to see the return of a major festival in and around Buena Vista — it looks as though Seven Peaks will be the first to return for subsequent years, and I expect that we’ll see growth in both attendance and awareness of local businesses.”
He added he is anxious to see some engaging activation of Main Street for festival-goers who venture into town in the future, similar to a downtown mini-festival for visitors and locals who may not be participating in the major event. Even though it is Live Nation’s responsibility to deliver that sort of downtown experience, Eckstein believes Live Nation went above and beyond to promote the town of Buena Vista.
“If the business community wants to see more happening in town, we’ll need to figure out how to activate some sort of Main Street business alliance or another entity to make this happen. In the meantime though, I could not be more satisfied with the overall experience and boost in business that resulted from this year’s Seven Peaks Festival – can’t wait for next year!”
Annika Woolmington, owner of Buena Vista Roastery Café, said she enjoyed seeing town humming with new tourists and also had the opportunity to enjoy the festival herself.
“I felt as though it was definitely busier, a fairly even mix of Labor Day vacationers and festival-goers. Whether or not it was intentional, Dierks Bentley (headlining singer for the event) actually did more for drawing crowds into town just by visiting and shouting out the businesses himself, both on stage and in social media,” she said.
Souled Out T-shirts owner Amber McManamay, which recently opened a storefront on East Main selling Buena Vista-inspired T-shirts and memorabilia, said it was the best weekend her company has seen.
“We had our best weekend of the year with Live Nation in town. I don’t have a previous Labor Day to compare it to, though. The traffic was good and didn’t really have any negative experiences. We definitely look forward to it again,” she said.