More than 10,000 people attended the HydroFest boat races this year, according to the Marshall County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).
While the event did not make money for the CVB, it's not really designed as a money maker, CVB President Katy Norton said. There were infrastructure costs this year including permanent power for the pits and the permanent anchors for the course that the CVB will be able to use for years to come.
The full economic impact of the event won't be known until the sales tax receipts come in for that period, she noted.
Also, there's been no decision yet on whether HydroFest will return in 2020. The CVB board of directors will meet Monday and a decision could be made at that time or it could be delayed.
It is very clear that the participants would like to return to Guntersville. The racers uniformly raved about Guntersville as a venue.
"Powerboat Nationals was new at HydroFest this year and they'd like us to be on their 2020 schedule," Norton said. "So would HydroCross and H1."
New this year were 2 concerts on the grass on Friday and Saturday night of the event near the Sunset Drive beach.
"Those were an additional cost," Norton said. "Adding Powerboat Nationals was an additional cost, but it filled downtime, something people talked about last year."
She said the concerts near the beach provided a couple of evenings of good entertainment.
"It was a great venue for a concert, in the grass under the trees, and was a nice way to spend an evening."
The CVB issued this official statement concerning HydroFest:
thousands to G'ville
With good weather, two concerts and four competitive boat racing series, Guntersville Lake HydroFest provided a packed weekend of entertainment for more than 10,000 attendees.
The event, held the last weekend in June, saw crowds swell on Saturday and Sunday as the H1 Unlimiteds reached speeds of close to 200 mph. Jimmy Shane, driver of the U-6 Miss Homestreet boat, took the Southern Cup on Sunday afternoon, giving him his first championship in Guntersville.
The newest addition to the weekend, the Powerboat National series, launched from the beach in the center of the event venue, giving spectators a close-up view of the small but still fast racing boats. Jayme Durand, one of the only female drivers in the sport, took the championship trophy home in the Pro Tunnel 1 series.
“We had another great year of boat racing on our lake,” said Katy Norton, president of the Marshall County CVB. “Our thanks go out to the more than 400 volunteers and public safety staff who worked so hard to ensure the weekend ran smoothly. We are also very thankful for all the sponsors who supported year two and helped underwrite this event. HydroFest brings national attention to our community and our waterway and provides revenue for our cities and county. It is truly a win for all of us.”
While the true economic impact cannot be determined until tax revenue and lodging revenue is calculated, Norton estimates that the event generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the community.
“We sold tickets to attendees across 24 states, and those visitors came and spent three days with us,” Norton said. “They enjoyed our restaurants, our shops and our hotels. In addition, we sold thousands of tickets to people across the state of Alabama, not just within our local markets, but from as far south as Dothan.”
Norton said the interest generated through social media platforms grew this year with more than 690,000 impressions on the HydroFest Facebook page within the three months of active ticket sales. CVB staff are still calculating data from digital advertising campaigns, to discover the actual exposure the event received through marketing efforts.
For those who missed HydroFest, a 30-minute special featuring the Powerboat Nationals series along with highlights from the weekend event and information about the community, will air on Fox Southeast Sports on Saturday, July 27th at 8 a.m., noon and again at 8 p.m. The show was filmed on location during the weekend event.