Peterborough Musicfest generates $4.3M annually for region, study shows

A new economic impact assessment says the annual Peterborough Musicfest summer concert series generates $4.3 million for the region. Courtesy: Peterborough Musicfest

A new economic impact assessment says Peterborough Musicfest generates $4.3 million annually for the Peterborough, Ont., region.

The assessment by Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED) evaluated several factors for the annual outdoor summer music festival such as visitor numbers, accommodations, restaurants, and transportation.

Peterborough Musicfest — set to begin its 37th season this summer — is the longest-running free music festival in Canada.

“Arts and culture experiences like Peterborough Musicfest are an enticing draw for visitors and locals alike,” said Joe Rees, director of tourism with PKED. “Musicfest’s twice-weekly summer concerts are a favourite for locals and cottagers, and also bring people to experience our communities for the first time — enjoying other attractions, accommodations, dining, and recreation while they are here and generating significant economic impact for local businesses.”

The assessment determined aggregate visitor spending during the festival exceeded $1.76 million. The combined spending of out-of-town attendees, participants, VIPs, and other visitors, along with the expenditures made by the event organizers, totalled over $2.34 million.

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The 2023 festival had a combined 110,000 people attend Del Crary Park for 15 free concerts that ran from July and August. Expenditures by visitors were distributed across several sectors including:

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  • Restaurants: $604,284
  • Retail / Shopping: $306,439
  • Vehicle Expenses: $297,137
  • Other Food / Groceries: $233,696
  • Recreation & Entertainment: $173,844
  • Accommodations: $116,622
  • Transportation: $31,392

PKED says the spending breakdown reflects a diverse economic activity generated by festival attendees, with accommodations and restaurants leading the expenditure categories at 18.8 per cent and 29.8 per cent, respectively.

Of the 110,000 in attendance in 2023, the assessment says 63 per cent were considered local (within a 40-kilometre range). Sixty-four per cent of attendees said the festival was the sole reason for their visit to Peterborough. Sixty-nine per cent of out-of-town attendees made day trips to the city for festival performances.

Approximately 36 per cent of attendees were age 55 and older, followed by nearly 23 per cent between the age of 45 to 54.

The assessment estimates $1.2 million in wages and salaries are supported by economic activity generated by Peterborough Musicfest.

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Peterborough Musicfest general manager Tracey Randall says the festival remains grateful for the ongoing community support. The festival is a not-for-profit organization that relies on sponsorships, government funding and donations to continue offering free admission concerts.

“This survey confirms what we’ve always known – music has the power to transform communities and economies alike,” she said. “We’re thrilled to see the impact our festival has on Peterborough and beyond, and we’re grateful for the support that made this assessment possible.”

Season 37 of Peterborough Musicfest runs from June 20 to Aug. 17. Among acts confirmed so far include Metric on July 17 and Down with Webster on July 31.

The economic impact assessment was funded by a Community Futures Peterborough grant.

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