The San Luis Obispo County Visitors and Conference Bureau said Savor the Central Coast boosted the region’s economy by almost $3 million this year, but organizers of the food and wine event told the Business Times it fell about $47,000 short of turning a profit.
The visitor’s bureau also announced the dates of the third annual Savor event. The four-day festival, which features food and wine from across the region, will be held from Sept. 27 to Sept. 30.
In 2011, the popular event generated $2.9 million for the San Luis Obispo County economy, which represents a 22 percent increase from the inaugural event in 2010. That number includes about $1 million spent by out-of-town visitors, according to the visitor’s bureau.
Stacie Jacob, executive director of the San Luis Obispo County visitor’s bureau, told the Business Times the event is an investment on behalf of her organization, which is publicly and privately funded.
“The ultimate goal is to make a profit, and we hope to do that in 2012,” Jacob said. “We have two years of history under our belts, and we’ve grown in both economic impact and attendance.”
Attendance grew by 20 percent to 9,000 guests. The visitor’s bureau co-hosts the event with Sunset Magazine.
“The growth trends are impressive for the second year of Savor,” Jacob said in a news release. “Savor is the type of event that falls in line with our mission to create an experience and market the county as a choice destination leveraging our key assets of food, wine and a lifestyle the traveler seeks. We are excited about year three and our continued marketing partnership with the Sunset magazine team.”
More than 200 wineries and 38 chefs turned out for the 2011 festival. Guests sampled food and wine, and toured San Luis Obispo hot spots such as Santa Margarita Ranch, Hearst Castle, Pismo Pier, San Luis Obispo Mission Plaza, Paso Robles Downtown Square and the coastline from Cambria to Morro Bay to Avila Beach.
Event planners are following a similar line-up for 2012. Guests will again have the opportunity to meet farmers, winemakers, chefs and artisan producers from the Central Coast. But at next year’s event, residents and out-of-town visitors will also get to meet celebrity chefs and participate in the new Sunset International Wine Competition.
According to a survey done by last year’s event planners, 88 percent of people who attended the festival said it met or exceeded their expectations. Eighty-two percent said they plan to return in 2012.