Tracking attendance tricky for city events

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This summer saw big changes to some of the City of Marysville’s public events, and now officials are taking stock and planning for next year.
Two big-ticket issues have to do with attendance: how to increase it, and how to count it. City Public Information Officer Anna Krutowskis said the city has always struggled with getting a head counts for its events.
“With McGuffey Lane here, it always brings in such a huge crowd, and each year is seems like more,” she said. “Well, how much more?”
Event Coordinator Amanda Morris said the city can get rough counts from food vendors, but since they don’t charge for admission, it’s hard to be accurate.
“It is a little bit of a struggle to know what that attendance number is,” she said.
More than anything, officials would simply like to have an answer when residents ask them how many people attend.
According to Morris, First Wednesdays were meant to attract people to the Uptown area to shop and spend money. She said the live music is meant to be “icing on the cake.”
Attendance, however, has remained relatively stagnant.
“They’ve been kind of consistent,” Morris said.
Morris said the city has been brainstorming ways to increase the number of people attending the city’s First Wednesdays events. She said the city has considered hosting them every Wednesday next summer, but nothing has been decided yet.
Morris said the city is always looking for ways to improve experiences for residents before something becomes a problem. She used the drink lines at last month’s Uptown event as an example.
“We didn’t’ receive any complaints, nobody really struggled,” she said. “But when we look at those functions, we go, ‘there’s got to be a better way.’”
The city might opt for tokens at future events that can be carried over from event to event.
Overall, the city is happy with how its events panned out this year. Another big change this year was Day in the Park. The city combined its Legion Park music programming with the Day in the Park event to make a larger event with musical performers playing all day.
Weather threatened to rain out the event, but it held off, and Morris said attendance was still good.
“The weather may have affected our attendance a little bit, but we still saw good numbers at the pool,” she said.
Morris said the city will reconfigure the event next year to place the music later in the day to give attendees more of a chance to swim in the pool.
Attendance for Movies in the Park was good, and Morris said the city plans to keep those going next summer.
“We’re very fortunate weather has worked out for us on those,” she said. “They seem to be a need or a niche for those attending.”
A few local businesses seem positive about the state of the city’s events. Kim Hott, owner of the Uptown Antiques, said the events are good for business.
“Once people are up here, they’re kind of curious as to what’s going on,” she sai
Joe Duke, who owns Goodies Galore, said they’re “great events for the community.” He said the events attract a wide variety of people, “even the people from Mill Valley.”
He said the only thing he’d change is programming for children. While Duke acknowledged that there are activities for younger residents at Uptown Friday Nights, the city could do more. Right now, the event caters to older children.
“It’s a family event if your kids are ten or older,” he said.
Despite that, Duke likes the way the city’s programs engage the community. He said he hopes more people start going to First Wednesdays in particular.
“I just want to make sure we do a many things as we can to keep the downtown vibrant,” he said.



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