2017 Oregon Brewers Festival Economic Study + Shortened 2018 Festival

A pour from the 2016 Oregon Brewers Festival Ceremonial Keg of Laurelwood Brewing’s Workhorse IPA. (photo by Cat Stelzer)

Last evening at Cascade Brewing Barrel House Art Larrance, Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF) founder, and Jeff Dense, Professor of Political Science and Craft Beer Studies at Eastern Oregon University, announced its economic impact study from the 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival.

It was announced that the 2017 OBF generated $23.9 Million dollars for the surround area. More importantly for craft beer fans we also learned that due to economics of running this massive festival that in 2018 the OBF will eliminate its Wednesday session as it moves from a five-day festival to a four-day festival from July 26-29, 2018. There was also mention of doing away with the Specialty Tent or with some years better known as the Buzz Tent or International Tent.

Dense led a team of students that administered 908 on-site interviews between July 26 and July 29, 2017. The study that was conducted utilized IMPLAN (IMpact Analysis for PLANning) data and software package to estimate the economic impact of the Oregon Brewers Festival on Multnomah County. It was found that this past summer’s OBF generated an estimated $15.3 million in direct, $4.4 million in indirect (additional input purchases made by local businesses) and $4.1 million in induced (expenditures by employees from wages paid by companies in direct contact with tourists) economic impact. The $23.9 million economic impact for the 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival constituted an 18% decrease from the 2016 edition of the event that can be attributed to a 15% decrease in total attendance.

Dense and his students queried on a range of demographic factors, along with estimates of expenditures in tourism-related categories. This included transportation, lodging, meals, gasoline purchases, non-beer related recreation, beer purchased to take home, expenditures at the festival grounds and retail purchases.

Two of the most significant findings unearthed by the study are the number of women (44.2%) attending the 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival, along with a precipitous decline (38%) in lodging expenditures by OBF attendees, despite a 6% increase in the percentage of out-of-town visitors.

“Women are the key to the future of the craft beer industry,” said Dense in a prepared statement. “The lodging industry should take heed to the increasing number of cost conscious visitors who are availing themselves of the vacation rental lodging market and staying with family and friends while attending craft beer festivals and other community events in Portland.”

Art Larrance and Lisa Morrison speak to the crowd gathered for the tapping of the 2016 Oregon Brewers Festival ceremonial keg. (photo by Cat Stelzer)

Here are more key figures from the 2017 OBF Economic Study…

Oregon Brewers Festival Economic Impact Executive Summary

A survey of 908 attendees at the 30th annual Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF) was administered July 26-29, 2017. OBF patrons were asked a range of questions, including demographics (age, gender, residence), tourism visitation, along with expenditure inquiries attributable to their attendance at the festival. The results of the survey and ensuing economic impact analysis indicate:

  • The 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival generated an estimated economic impact of $23.9 million. The total estimated economic impact consists of Direct ($15.3 million), Indirect ($4.4 million) and Induced ($4.1 million) outputs. The food and drink ($5.4 million) and lodging ($5.2 million) industries were the primary drivers of the direct economic impact of the 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival.
  • The $4.4 Million indirect economic impact of the 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival affects a significant number of local industry sectors. Real estate ($.49 million) was the primary industry sector benefitting the most from the indirect economic impact generated by the OBF. Twelve industries benefited indirectly from the festival in excess of $100,000, while 53 industries obtained indirect economic impacts of $10,000-$99,999.
  • The 2017 OBF’s direct economic impact generated a total added value of $8.98 million. Employee compensation ($5.7 million) and indirect business taxes ($1.3 million) contributed to the direct economic impact of the 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival.
  • Visiting OBF patrons spent an average of $532. Expenditures by Southwest Washington visitors ($253) and non-Portland based Oregon residents ($161) paled in comparison with the average expenditures of out-of-state patrons ($666) and international visitors ($804).
  • Food and Drink ($6.9 million) accounted for the largest share of 2017 OBF attendee expenditures. Lodging ($5.9 million) expenditures was the other primary expenditure category for Oregon Brewers Festival attendees.
  • Nearly half of 2017 OBF patrons were out-of-town visitors. 7% of OBF attendees came from beyond Portland, including Southwest Washington (6.6%), Oregon residents not from Portland (8.8%), out-of-state (28.3%), and international visitors (5.0%).
  • OBF attendees came from 32 states and 13 foreign countries. Washington (9.9%) and California (9.7%) were the leading sources of out-of-state OBF patrons, while Canada (2.6%) was the primary source for international visitors. In sum, Washington, California and Canada accounted for nearly a quarter (22.2%) of 2017 OBF total attendees.
  • Women accounted for 44.2% of 2017 OBF attendees. 21-29-year-old females constituted a higher percentage of overall female attendance (43.5%) than their similarly aged male counterparts (30.0%).
  • Nearly half (44.4%) of 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival patrons utilized mass transit to attend the festival. Saturday (30.9%) saw a decline in mass transit usage due to reduced parking rates in the downtown Portland area.
  • Almost half (47.2%) of 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival patrons were attending the festival for the either the first or second time. Conversely, 20.4% had attended the OBF for 10 or more years.
  • While 30-39-year-old attendees constitute the largest age demographic (29.6%) of 2017 OBF patrons, the 50+ crowd has a significant presence (28.3%). In sum, the 40-49 (16.1%), 50-59 (14.0%) and 60+ (14.3%) age groups accounted for 44.4% of attendees.
  • An estimated 265 jobs were created as a result of the 2017 Oregon Brewers Festival. 207, 28 and 30 jobs were created as a result of the direct, indirect and induced economic impact of the 2017 OBF, respectively.