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CEDAR CITY — Audiences are now flocking to Southern Utah to attend the Utah Shakespeare Festival. While they enjoy some time off, they also spend money and that is very welcome news to businesses.
Economist Kelly Matthews conducted an economic impact study for the festival and the results were released in January. 85 percent of audience members drive more than 75 miles to attend a performance. And, it turns out, they do more than that. The Shakespeare experience draws more than 125,000 people a year to Southern Utah.
It remains one of the state's biggest tourist destinations.
The plays, the green shows and the seminars are all about growth and success but the festival is also big business for Cedar City, Iron County and beyond.
"About 35 percent of our audiences comes from out-of-state, so they're bringing in new dollars," said R. Scott Phillips, Executive director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
The festival's economic impact study shows it generates more than $35 million annually. One sold-out performance in two theatres brings more than $143,000 a day to the community.
And whether it's restaurants advertising Shakespeare's image, or motels like Stratford Court, Abbey Inn and the new Henley Manor, stay as you like it, they benefit.
"It's a great fit. Get out of the big city, come to the small town, see Shakespeare," said Gary Howe, general manager of the Cedar City Crystal Inn
60 travel writers from the U.S. and Canada came to experience this destination and promote it.
To meet us is to like us, organizers say. So when it comes to spending entertainment dollars, the choice narrows to the Utah Shakespeare Festival.