From late-winter to mid-spring, the Arizona Renaissance Festival southeast of Gold Canyon attracts 250,000 visitors annually to its shops and entertainment.
This year it was held weekends Feb. 10-April 1 and Presidents’ Day, Monday, Feb. 20. The 30-acre festival village at 12601 E. U.S. Highway 60 had castles, cottages, pubs and 13 stages of performances of music, dance, acrobatics and comedy. The website is RenFestInfo.com.
As many as 1,200 people work at the event.
“Festival directly hires and contracts approximately 900-1,000 seasonal festival support personnel and performers,” Sanja Malinovic, marketing and sales director at the Arizona Renaissance Festival, said. “Festival artisans and vendors hire another 150-200 for their festival exhibitions and activities,” she said.
“Substantial sales tax is generated from festival admissions and food and beverage sales, along with the additional tax revenue generated and paid by nearly 200 vendors and artisans,” she said.
The economic impact extends beyond the walls of the festival, according to two Gold Canyon business representatives.
“It is a fun event. It brings a lot of business to the area. It does benefit; you see the traffic in Bashas’, supermarkets, gas stations, Walgreens, so it is bringing money to the other businesses, especially restaurants,” Pat Tanna, general manager at Best Western Gold Canyon, 8333 E. Sunrise Sky Drive, said.
“It definitely benefits business. You see the big increase in traffic,” Cat Gray, manager at Walgreens Gold Canyon, 6951 S. Kings Ranch Road, said. “We get a lot of business from soda and snacks and that type of thing. We also get a lot of business from the people who are working at the festival. So, when the event closes at night, they’ll come and buy quite a bit. So, it’s definitely beneficial to the business.”
The annual festival has the potential to bring a positive economic impact to businesses in Apache Junction, Larry Johnson, president and CEO of Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce, said: “The renaissance festival with its approximate 250,000 visitors on an annual basis provides exposure to our community, so I am sure (it) holds benefits in that capacity. Obviously, when I go out to the renaissance festival, I believe most of who attends are focused primarily on the event itself, the renaissance festival. So, I don’t know, necessarily, if they meander off the beaten path. But, hopefully, they’ll come back and explore our community and visit the Apache Trail and see what Apache Junction has to offer,” he said. “I don’t feel we do a well-enough job of leveraging the opportunity that we have with the amount of volume of traffic we have passing by, but it is something we are looking into. We have all these wonderful consumers driving right up to our front door, we just have to make sure we are welcoming them to our community.”
The Arizona Renaissance Festival’s attendees must take ground transportation to the 10 a.m.-6 p.m. rain-or-shine event, so traffic is increased greatly in the area.
“The only negative impact is, it congests our highway system through our community, but again, that congestion can also create opportunity,” Mr. Johnson said.
Editor’s note: R. Nicholas Evans is a freelancer writer for the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent newspaper.