GR Wine and Food Festival made money again

February 13, 2011
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The Wine and Food Festival, held at DeVos Place for the past three Novembers, turned a profit for the second year in a row. The three-day event, presented by Showspan Inc. and the Convention and Arena Authority, saw revenues for 2010 top expenses by $31,388.

The surplus is nearly identical to the $31,886 the 2009 show earned, and roughly $60,000 more than the initial event, when the show lost $30,516, largely because of start-up costs.

Overall, total revenue came to $267,720 for last November’s event, while expenses reached $236,332. Both revenue and expenses for the 2010 festival rose by $20,000 from the 2009 show.

Showspan Vice President Henri Boucher said roughly 10,000 people attended the event — about the same number as last year, but 2,000 more than the first show. He said he hopes to increase attendance by 50 percent in the near future by growing the number of craft beer brewers that serve the show.

In fact, Boucher said he would like the event to become the Wine, Beer and Food Festival.

Perhaps the most positive attendance figure came from bus tours.

“We had a 50 percent jump in bus groups. The Amway Grand did a great job of selling packages,” said Boucher.

Boucher also said he wants to look at going back to holding the event Friday through Sunday, as it was in its inaugural year, instead of Thursday through Saturday, as it has been the past two years. He said the change has largely been a tradeoff.

“I think it might be better to go back to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We had over 1,000 people come on Sunday,” Boucher said.

The 2011 festival will run Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 17-19, however. “But we will look at going back to Sunday,” said Boucher, adding that the show’s sponsors were happy with the event.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever not had a sponsor come back with us. I think the sponsors are very pleased.”

Dianna Stampfler, the festival’s publicist for Showspan, said the exhibitors were also pleased. “This is the one (show) they won’t cut. Somehow they will get their people and their products here,” she said. “Bus groups are seeing this (show) as a destination.”

SMG Director of Finance Chris Machuta said DeVos Place earned about $22,000 from the event.

“We know this show has a very upscale reputation,” said Boucher.

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