Casper Events Surge Back After Pandemic Slump
Over the past year, many events that normally bring in large crowds, like the College National Finals Rodeo, had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
With restrictions being lifted, these events are back in full swing and more popular than ever.
Brad Murphy, general manager at the Ford Wyoming Event Center, said they saw the biggest ticket sales ever for CNFR and similar events.
"CNFR was just a little over 22,000 tickets sold for the entire week, with over 900 season tickets sold for that, both of those were all time records. Our revenue is going to be up, we are projecting to save the city a quite substantial amount...we're looking at least a 10 to 15% savings for the city. It'll be the best year ever for spectrum in the building."
Over the pandemic, Murphy said they had to furlough up to eight employees, however with events back in full swing, they've been able to rehire those employees and are back at their pre-pandemic staff.
Brook Kaufman, CEO of Visit Casper, said while the numbers have been good so far, the city has yet to fully rebound from the impacts of the pandemic.
"This is obviously up from 2020 overall, have not in our market seen a full rebound, during CNFR occupancy in our hotels was just over 80%, which tremendous for our market, but we're still a little down. We have on average, 2,600 hotel rooms in the market...the average so far this summer has been 65% of those rooms were full."
Kaufman said the city is still down about 7% to 8% from how full their rooms usually are, due in part to business conferences and other conventions being slow to return.
For Parade Day, while Kaufman said it is difficult to evaluate attendance, she said people she spoke to said they felt like there were more people there, but for CNFR, Visit Casper estimated it brought in around $1.9 million in revenue to the city.
Murphy said Casper easing COVID-19 restrictions earlier got people interested in coming to more events.
"One thing about Wyoming, we were one of the very first places to open, so we saw sales increase because we saw people from outside Casper came to our events as well, because they had no other place to go. We really saw that for monster trucks, and rodeo and a couple other concerts...People were tired of being locked up and they wanted to go and experience some great entertainment, and we had it available."