This year may go down as one of the most contentious in American history, but all in all it’s been a pretty good one for the City of Harrodsburg.
Especially where tourism is concerned. Organizers for local events have reported higher attendance than in previous years.
Estimates for Pioneer Days range from 15,000-20,000 visitors this year, said David Coleman, manager of Old Fort Harrod State Park, including visitors from across the commonwealth and all over the country.
“That’s substantially more than in other years,” Coleman told the Harrodsburg Board of Commissioners on Monday night.
While Pioneer Days is a free event, Coleman said attendance estimates were based on two factors: the amount of food consumed and the amount of waste produced. He said event-goers produced over four tons of waste this year over three days.
While the park is winding down for the year, they are busy planning the spring.
“We’re gearing up great guns for next year,” Coleman said.
However, there is one thing organizers can’t plan for: the chief reason Pioneer Days saw so many visitors this year.
“We had great weather,” Coleman said.
Another event that saw bigger crowds was the Fort Harrod Jazz Festival. Sam Carr said attendance at the festival, which is in its third year, broke 5,000 for the first time. Carr said vendors ran out of food three times and the park ran out of beer by the third day.
Most of the attendees were not from Harrodsburg, said Carr, who said visitors came from Colorado, Texas and Florida to hear 16 bands play over three days.
“We get a lot of people from out of town,” he said.
Carr said organizers are busy planning next year’s festival. He said every band from last year wants to return. They have also lined up two headliners: the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra and saxophonist Adrian Crutchfield, who once played for Prince.
“He contacted us about coming here and playing,” Carr said.
He said they are busy lining up sponsors for next year’s festival, which will run Sept. 14-16, and thanked the city for their help.
“Without the city’s support we couldn’t do it,” Carr said.
The commission also approved closing city streets for two events in 2018. They agreed to close Lexington Street on Monday, Jan. 18, 2018, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Marchers will walk down Lexington, Greenville and Poplar Streets before returning to the Mercer Transformation building (formerly Harrodsburg High School).
The commissioners also agreed to close several streets for a march commemorating the 10th anniversary of Mercer Transformation’s march. The event will be held on May 12, 2018.
The next meeting of the City of Harrodsburg Board of Commissioners will be on Monday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.