UNT research team to study rebranded Main Street Days festival in Grapevine
DENTON (UNT), Texas -- For more than 20 years, Grapevine's annual Main Street Days festival in the downtown area, which is being advertised this year as the "official kick-off to summertime," resembled other spring street festivals, with live music, games for children, vendors selling arts and crafts and food booths.
But in 2011 -- the 27th year of the festival -- the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau branded and subtitled it as "A Pizza Experience." Six local pizza restaurants served their best dishes at the festival's Pizza Piazza.
A team of researchers at the University of North Texas College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism will survey 600 to 700 people attending this year's festival May 18-20 to study the effectiveness of the new theme, which he says the Convention and Visitors Bureau adopted to make it unique from other festivals.
The team, led by Young Hoon Kim, an assistant professor in the college, will determine the visitors' involvement in the rebranded Main Street Days and the festival's economic impact by asking about the activities the visitors enjoyed and how much they were willing to spend on each activity, including food and merchandise from arts and craft booths.
A UNT faculty member since last August, Kim previously studied the economic impact and effectiveness of festivals in attracting repeat visitors and corporate sponsors when he was a faculty member at the University of Mississippi. Oxford, home of the university, is the site of a film festival in February, an arts and music festival in April, a blues festival in June and a food festival in October, which Kim said is a lot of festivals for a town of less than 20,000 that also has college sports throughout the year.
He noted, however, that a small town has a built-in audience of local residents for festival attendance. Main Street Days must compete with many other festivals and events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that are scheduled the same month, or even the same weekend.
"Organizers have to make sure to develop and maintain a brand and image because sometimes festivals can't break even in costs each year," Kim said. "A food festival is different than others because the taste of food tends to be a longer memory than anything a festivalgoer sees or hears."
This year's "Pizza Experience" at the Main Street Days festival includes not only the Pizza Piazza, but also a pub with wines and craft beers for tasting and the People's Pizza Pick competition, with festivalgoers voting for their favorite creations from the pizza vendors.
Kim recently received a research grant from the UNT Office of the Provost and the Vice President for Academic Affairs to conduct a similar research on another festival in Texas, and compare the two. He also plans to determine the long-term impact of festivals by studying them for the next five years, believing that his festival research would contribute to community development and destination image.