For all of you who have inquired, the fourth annual Bacon Labor Day event will be hosted in Traveler’s Rest in 2017. The event was successfully held in Simpsonville from 2014 to 2016, with last year’s event resulting in an economic impact number of $161,433, along with 445 pounds of bacon consumed, and 7300 visitors to Simpsonville.
Moving Bacon Labor Day out of Simpsonville was a decision that I did not make lightly. I created the event hoping to keep a 39 year community tradition alive – some sort of family friendly festival in Simpsonville over the Labor Day weekend. The first year started with a budget of precisely zero and resulted in an attendance of 3,500 on just one day. That first year we also “cause marketed” with the city of Simpsonville’s K9 unit and donated over $6,000 after the event. The K9 department fit with our tagline: Who Saves Your Bacon? That tagline was designed to encourage support for anyone serving a role in our community who maintains safety and security including police, fire, EMS, and military. My goal was to start with the K9 department, who communicated a need in 2014, and include other groups for future events. Unfortunately for reasons which escape me, Bacon Labor Day’s alignment with the K9 department caused some hard feelings, making the event and myself guilty by association.
So for the last two years Bacon Labor Day has operated as simply a bacon themed event. Come out and enjoy music, rides, and eat some bacon. That’s not to say that Bacon Labor Day doesn’t still support our tagline cause, quite the opposite really. To date the event has supported our tagline cause with just over $14,000 in funding and donations. The ability to give back to our community only occurred because of a successful event; an event that takes a lot of planning, preparation, and the means to execute which includes funding for event advertising.
The City of Simpsonville has been generous to the event with ATax awards to advertise the event, with $4,600, $14,000, and $15,000 in years 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively. In year 2017 the event’s award was $0. ATax awards come from hotel room stays and must be used to drive tourism back into the area. The generally accepted guideline for a tourist is someone who drives more than 50 miles. As you can imagine, it’s not the easiest thing to accomplish; getting people to drive more than 50 miles to attend an event. But the power of bacon is strong. The 2017 event documented just over 1100 attendees who fit the generally accepted definition of a tourist.
While Simpsonville had been generous in the past with ATax awards for advertising, the costs for the event from the city also increased. In 2016, Bacon Labor Day paid a total of just under $6,000 to the City in fees for renting the park, permits, and security. And indications were the fees were going to be even higher for a 2017 event. Anticipating the changes in fees and no Atax funds awarded, along with the current political climate in Simpsonville, led to the decision to move the event.
We all know that the City of Simpsonville is very political, and if you’re not on the right side of the political coin with certain people there are consequences. Some consequences are obvious, some not so much. In the case of last year’s (2016) Bacon Labor Day event, it was sanitized from the City’s website for a brief time period. I was told this directive came from an elected official; a very petty and juvenile move, in my opinion. The “who” behind an event shouldn’t matter if the event is bringing tourists to the city. But in Simpsonville it matters very much who you are, despite the claims of #OneSimpsonville.
In closing I would like to thank each and everyone of you who has supported Bacon Labor Day in Simpsonville and invite you to come join us this year for a bigger and better event in Travelers Rest.
– Mark Rodeffer♦