Blueberries plus Festival visitors equals economic boost for Nacogdoches - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Blueberries plus Festival visitors equals economic boost for Nacogdoches

They may be blue in color, but the little berries are bringing in a lot of green to Nacogdoches County this week for the 23 Annual Texas Blueberry Festival.

The blueberry is second in the nation only to the strawberry in terms of popularity.  Production of the fruit aside, Nacogdoches County has found a way to turn that popularity into economic success.  The Texas Blueberry Festival draws nearly 20,000 visitors each year, rain or shine.  Local economists say the economic impact is easily 1.8 million dollars.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, of the 424 visitors surveyed, 37 percent traveled more than 100 miles, those numbers were even higher in previous years.  Festival organizers predict the number of attendees at this year's festival could be the largest yet, which means the economic impact could top more than 2 million dollars.

"We bring people in from a 250 miles radius, not only to visit the county festival, but also to stay in hotels and motels and to bring their wares in for us to see and buy from.  It's also a great exposure for our little town," said Teresa Darby, Festival co-chairman.

One Nacogdoches retailer said the Texas Blueberry Festival weekend causes a 10 to 20 percent boost in business over a typical Saturday.  That means thousands of dollars in sales and sales tax revenue for Nacogdoches.

It takes many volunteers to help make the Festival a success.  "We have hundreds of volunteers from every walk in the community, working side by side.  You get to be friends.  If they're not the person to give you the information that you need, they know somebody that can and so we all help each other.  Everybody can be part of that web and grow a good community," said Michelle Smith, Festival co-chairman.

The Texas Blueberry Festival presented by Brookshire Brothers is Saturday, June 9 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Nacogdoches.

Highlights include:

Free admission to Festival ground

Farm-fresh blueberries for sale

Blueberry Pancake Breakfast

Arts & Crafts

Blueberry Farm tours – pick your own

Classic Car Show

Blueberry Hill Soda & Sweet Shoppe

Musical Entertainment

Kids get Wt Bounce Park & Cool Zone

Cookin' Up the Blues Chef Demonstrations

Too Blue Petting Zoo

5K Running of the Blueberries

Paul Kendrick Memorial 42 Tourney

True Blue Pet Parade

Bob Murphey Storytelling Contest

Big Blue Murals – you paint ‘em

Blue Washer Board Tournament

Cowboy Max

"We're the 8th largest producing county in the state.  That being said we are also the capital of Texas Blueberry production here and the blueberries this year are very ripe and ready to go," said Smith. 

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