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Despite downturn, LakeFest still on for next year

BURNET — Despite a lower-than-expected turnout this year, the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce is exploring strategies to lure bigger crowds to the LakeFest drag boat races next year. 


“We’re moving forward,” said Christian Fletcher, executive director of the Chamber. “We’re making plans for next year.”  

Fletcher spoke to the Burnet County Commissioners earlier this week about the traditional Marble Falls event held in August on Lake Marble Falls near Lakeside Park. 

Visitors to the weekend event — the main fundraiser for the Chamber — were slow to come Aug. 8-9, Fletcher told the commissioners. 

And during Aug. 10, “We did not have much of a crowd at all,” Fletcher recalled. 

“It is no secret we did not do quite as well as we hoped to do,” Fletcher said. “I don’t think it was because of lack of effort.” 

Advance sales to the event were “right where they were last year,” and VIP seating for the races “sold out,” Fletcher added. 

Also, weeks before the races, the Chamber spent about $15,000 to advertise the event, about 60 percent more than what was spent on advertising in 2007, Fletcher said. 

More money spent on advertising helped boost thousands of visits to the LakeFest Web site, Fletcher added. 

Also, the Chamber collected about $15,000 in registration fees from boat owners and then offered more purse money to boat competitors than in previous years, Fletcher added. 

However, higher gas prices for boats designed to race more than 200 mph and the beginning of a slumping economy may have helped push down the number of sponsorships for the event, Fletcher said.  

Indeed, the number of boat entries for LakeFest slipped to 84 this year from 187 in 2007, Fletcher added. 

Yet, the Chamber made a net profit of $30,000 from this year’s LakeFest, Fletcher said. 

“We did not lose money on the event,” he added. 

On the other hand, net profit for the event settled around $60,000 during 2006 and 2007, Fletcher said.  

“Do you think this is an isolated event, or has LakeFest run its course?” Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery asked Fletcher. 

Chamber officials did not know for certain how much “isolated issues” may have affected the event, Fletcher said. 

However, opportunities do exist with other sponsors “who want to promote the event next year,” the chamber director added. 

T-shirt and concession sales at the event fell as much as 25 percent from last year, LakeFest organizers said in August. 

Nevertheless, hotel occupancy rates in Marble Falls reached maximum capacity during the races, according to organizers.