The crowds gathered on the first day of Forecastle 2016. | File photo

The economic impact of this week’s three-day Forecastle Festival, which begins on Friday, is certainly a boon to the city, but that’s just one way the festival benefits Louisville.

According to a 2016 report from the Waterfront Park Development Corporation, Forecastle Festival has an economic impact of over $20 million a year. Sixty-five percent of attendees come from out of town. Attendees spend an average of $100 a day on hotels, gas, food, entertainment, sightseeing and souvenirs. The event draws more than 60,000 festivalgoers from all 50 states and more than 10 countries.

AC Entertainment, which owns the festival, has committed to holding the event in Waterfront Park through 2020.

Holly Weyler McKnight, “First Mate,” at the festival, told Insider that ticket sales so far were on pace with last year and that, as with all years, single-day tickets for Friday and Saturday outpaced sales for Sunday.

One dollar of each ticket sold goes to the festival’s foundation,  McKnight said, adding, “The foundation raises money through a number of initiatives on-site…Bourbon Cares, Art Wall… there are about a dozen revenue streams.”

In total, the foundation raised and distributed more than $100,000 in 2016, McKnight said. The foundation supports five nonprofit agencies that  work in environmental “hotspots,” which are considered the “richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth,” according to the foundation mission statement.

But in addition to being an economic engine and a supporter of environmentalist groups, the festival could have other potential impacts.

GLI has identified it as a way to sell the city for its talent acquisition efforts.

“We have been promoting Forecastle heavily on the Live In Lou Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds,” Alison Brotzge-Elder of GLI told Insider via email. “During the festival, we are going to continue doing a heavy push on those social media platforms to boost our followers and brand awareness for Live In Lou.”

Louisville Forward, too, has leveraged the festival in its promotions.

“We have used Forecastle to highlight the city to business development prospects,” Communications Manager Jessica Werthington told Insider in an email. “Major events and festivals like Forecastle are a great opportunity for us to showcase our city’s talent, quality of life and cultural scene.”

The Louisville Visitor and Convention Bureau sees Forecastle as a way to engage with visitors, LCVB Communications Manager Christa Ritchie said. This weekend, expect to see about a dozen volunteers on site, with maps and brochures on hand, who will answer questions about the city. “But they’ll also be touting all of the unique, authentic experiences visitors can have in the city while they are in town or to entice them to come back to the city for a future visit,” Ritchie said.

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