ST. MARYS — Two marquee events will be bringing thousands of visitors to the region this weekend.
After a two-year hiatus, the Governor’s Cup Regatta returns to Grand Lake St. Marys today and Sunday. The event, which features hydroplane boats racing on the lake, was canceled in 2011 and 2012 and was in jeopardy this year until the Lake Improvement Association stepped up with a $20,000. Auglaize/Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Donna Grube said the event is a shot in the arm for the local tourism economy.
“State research shows that an average day visitor to a location spends $100 and an overnight visitor spends $300,” Grube said. “So multiply that by the number of folks who come here and that’s a lot of money. I’ve talked to two hotels in the area and they are full this coming weekend, if they are bringing in 20,000 to 30,000 people, which I’ve heard as an estimate, you are talking $2 million.”
The regatta attracts participants and visitors from several surrounding states. Those visitors, Grube said, could serve as the best advocates for Grand Lake St. Marys and the surrounding region when they return home.
“We know that the interest is there,” Grube said.
“What I really love is that not only am I happy that they bring money in the region, but these people can go back to their hometowns and say that the lake is fantastic, and that word of mouth is great.”
The event, which is free, also draws a large local base — something Grube said is a credit to organizers.
“This weekend we have a lot going on,” Grube said. “People should come out and enjoy the event. There have been donations to save it and people should come out and see why and help make it a success.”
Riverside Bluesfest also returns after a brief hiatus. The event, which is held at K.C. Geiger Park in St. Marys, attracts some of the most popular artists on the blues scene.
“This year’s event is a little different in that it’s not on Labor Day weekend,” said David Stilwell, an organizer of the event. “We have one big show on Saturday. We were always a Saturday and Sunday event in the past.”
Like the regatta, Bluesfest attracts visitors from other states. That, Stilwell noted, is a huge financial benefit for the city.
“I think it’s huge in that we do bring a lot of people to down and pump a little into the local economy,” Stilwell said. “We hope we can do that this year ... We are back by popular demand. We had a lot of people who wanted us to do our show again and we already know we have people coming from Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati and other states. It’s a really nice draw for St. Marys and it gets people in here.”
This year, organizers are focusing on attracting more local residents to the show. Local support, Stilwell noted, is vital to the festival.
“It’s a fundraiser for K.C. Geiger Park,” Stilwell said. “It would be great to support.”
Throughout the years, the K.C. Geiger Park Improvement Committee has donated close to $150,000 for park improvements. This year, the group purchased a machine to line all the ball fields at the park.
“What we really want to do is have some type of permanent stage or amphitheater out here at the park,” Stilwell said. “That way we can have multiple types of things — Sunday concerts by the Rotary Club or if they wanted to, they could have Waynestock out there ... That’s our big, long-term goal.”
The park opens at 10 a.m. today and musical acts hit the stage at 1:30 p.m. For more information, go to StMarysBlues.com.