Arts Festival Brings in Big Bucks

Thousands of visitors to festival generate millions for Fort Worth

The Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival is in full swing.

With potentially tens of thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of visitors over the four days, the festival can cause traffic and parking headaches downtown.

But the state's biggest arts festival also has a big impact on Fort Worth. The sea of visitors walking through downtown also mean big business, despite street and parking closures.

"As we close down the streets, we know we're actually bringing commerce to the streets," said Jay Downie, director of events for Downtown Fort Worth Inc. "This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, weekend for restaurants in downtown Fort Worth."

The four-day event is considered one of the premier arts festivals of its kind, ranking sixth in in fine arts and craft arts by the 2010 Art Fair SourceBook.

An economic impact study commissioned by Downtown Fort Worth Inc. in 2009 found that year's festival pumped $33 million into the local economy.

Officials said they can't predict how much money will be ge's a free event. But local restaurants said they are already seeing business pick up.

"We've already seen the people setting up booths coming in and eating every day, and so it's definitely increased already, and it's only Thursday," said Mel Martinez, manager of Ojos Locos. "So, we're looking forward to a good weekend."

The 200 artists from all across the country with booths also benefit, generating $4 million by selling their work, according to Main Street Fort Worth.

"It's a very good show, and that's one of the reasons we're back," said Rusty Leffel, a Kansas City-area attorney and photographer. "We had a very good experience before, we were happy with all the people who have my work on their walls. And hope that others will come and find the same this time."

Maggie Davenport, who ate lunch at Ojos Locos after taking the Amtrak down from Ardmore, Okla., came for the day with a friend.

"We're fixing to go shopping," she said. "Yeah, we're going back with a lot [of things], probably."

Downie said that kind of commerce makes all the traffic and parking hassles worthwhile.

"The outcome speaks for itself," he said.

The Trinity Rail Express is making it easy to get to and from the festival this year. It's running later routes each night and special service on Sunday.

The T is offering park-and-ride bus service from Billy Bob's in the Stockyards on Friday and Saturday. The T's Molly Trolley is also in operation around downtown despite the closures.

Extra police presence is also around the area, with Tarrant County Sheriff's deputies, Fort Worth police officers and private security.

Organizers urge people who attend to keep an eye on their personal property and not leave items in plain sight in their vehicles.

Contact Us