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Dixie National worth millions to metro economy

Wild, wild west…big, big bucks

When the wild, wild west comes to town, it brings big bucks to Jackson.

An estimated 150,000 people attended the 35th annual Dixie National Rodeo and Livestock Show in Jackson, a seven-day event that draws folks from hundreds of miles around to catch the action of bull riders, steer wrestlers, bareback riders, calf ropers, barrel racers, bullfighters, team ropers and rodeo funny guys. Not to mention Brahman, Simmental, Gelvieh and Charolais shows and more, according to Tommy Strickland, assistant director of the Mississippi State Fairgrounds.

“About five years ago, we had an economic impact study done, which showed millions of dollars spent in the state during the week of the Dixie National Rodeo,” Strickland said.

An updated study, completed last week, focused on the metropolitan area. Results? A whopping $14 million or so is spread around to Jackson merchants, restaurateurs and hotels.

Susan Marquez, marketing manager of Northpark Mall in Ridgeland, said traffic is always heavy during the “double-duty” weekend — the Dixie National Rodeo and St. Valentine’s Day.

“Even though our merchants gear up for big crowds during this time, the numbers always amaze us,” Marquez said. “Our sales figures go up every year. We’re very pleased about that.”

According to the Center for Policy Research and Planning, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, expenditures per person are estimated at $8.88 for lodging, $16.34 for food and meals, and a beefy $66.77 for miscellaneous expenses for a total of $91.99 per day. Miscellaneous expenditures account for purchases of general merchandise, souvenirs, gasoline, tickets and food and beverage concession sales.

Based on these assumptions, economic analysis projections include approximately $1.3 million spent on lodging, $2.5 million on food and meals and slightly more than $10 million on miscellaneous expenditures.

Denver Baker, service manager of Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon in Jackson, said business picks up during rodeo week.

“Along with Valentine’s Day, we definitely see a double-digit increase,” he said. “We’ll have lots of groups, usually more families. It’s a more upbeat crowd than usual. I’d call it a ‘friendly-rowdy’ crowd.”

The direct impact of total personal income is $6 million, a secondary impact of $2.6 million for a total impact of almost $8.7 million, according to the economic study. Tips and gratuities are not included in those numbers.

Amana Smith, a waitress at Lone Star, said she often sees bigger tips during rodeo week, especially from groups.

“We serve a lot more Cajun ribeyes,” she said, with a smile.

An indirect economic impact that cannot easily be measured in dollars and cents is the increased sales volume in larger ticket items, such as trucks, RVs and SUVs.

“Since the Dixie National Rodeo has been coming to town, it has turned the month of February from a traditionally slow month for automotive sales into a really good sales month,” said John Breen, marketing manager for East Ford in Jackson.

Regular rodeo attendees usually plan a vehicle purchase or an upgrade during rodeo week, Breen said.

“Folks know they will have a larger selection to choose from at the dealerships in the metro area than perhaps from their hometown dealer, and they come to town ready to do business,” he said.

Total visitor expenses of $13.8 million bring an additional $233,530 in estimated sales tax revenue to the metro Jackson economy. With estimated sales tax of 7%, the state returns 18.5% of sales tax collections to the cities in Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties.

“The economic impact study was restricted to personal income impact, not employment impact,” said Bob Neal, state economist who recalculated the economic study in less than 24 hours to meet the MBJ’s deadline. “I don’t think many employers add full-time workers because of the Dixie National. However, the rodeo definitely has an impact on Jackson.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com or mbj@msbusiness.com.


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