The World Championships of Cowboy Action Shooting, known as End of Trail, is one of the largest events held in our region, and draws competitors and visitors from numerous countries around the world and throughout the United States. It takes place over a 10-day period each June at Founders Ranch, with public days on June 23-24 this year. The championships are organized by Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), whose world headquarters moved to Edgewood, N.M. in 2009, and is the world-wide sanctioning entity for Cowboy Action Shooting. So, what economic impact does an event like End of Trail have on our region and who benefits? The answers may surprise you.
In 2011, SASS prepared an economic impact study. Using direct spending (by SASS for event expenditures) as well as indirect (spent by visitors at End of Trail and local businesses), in 2011, End of Trail brought an estimated $3.1M to the immediate region. The direct impact to Bernalillo, Santa Fe, and Torrance Counties is estimated at $1.1M, which includes money spent by tourists, parking fees, accommodations, and event expenditures.
So, how do those numbers break down into components we can relate to locally? First, approximately 5,000 participants and attendees are here during the last two weeks of June, specifically to attend End of Trail. Of those visitors, 82%, travel long-distances to attend the event, and about 50% stay in hotels/motels/campgrounds for an average stay of six nights. But, lodging is just a piece of the picture. Travelers also shop, eat, and visit attractions throughout the region while here.
Based on the Event Participant data, collected by SASS, visitors largely spent their dollars on travel expenses, such as lodging ($53,319), dining out ($228,771), store-bought food ($130,121) and locally-purchased fuel ($289,142). Unforeseen expenses, such as auto and RV repairs, totaling $142,029, also enter the mix. Those numbers tell how much and where the initial dollars are spent. But, even that is still not the complete story.
“The public weekend during End of Trail is definitely our busiest weekend every June,” said Jeremiah Turner, owner of Trails West Dairy Queen in Edgewood. He notes that the gift shop is especially busy, in addition to increased food and gas sales.
Local retail businesses, like Trails West, see a definite increase in business during End of Trail. Turner and other merchants add extra staff hours to handle the additional business volume.
During End of Trail, the Sunset Motel, in Moriarty, like most motels in that city, is filled with SASS members.
“They’ll make their reservation for next year as they check out this year,” said Debbie Pogue, who owns and operates the motel with her husband, Michael. “So many of our guests return year after year. They are regular contributors to our local economy.”
Fully-booked motels not only mean staff earning extra wages, is means additional Lodger’s Tax for the City of Moriarty.
“End of Trail brings a LOT of business to both my stores,” said Debbie Goss, who with her husband Wes, owns Chili Hills Restaurants in Edgewood and Moriarty. She notes that for most of June and July she adds extra staff to handle the additional business.
“At any given time, there will be cowboys in my store, some coming at the end of the day, just for coffee and pie, and to share their stories of the day,” said Goss, “I just love to hear them laughing, having a good time. They are marvelous people.”
Edgewood Chamber of Commerce, this year, has organized “Cowboy Days” to encourage businesses region-wide to offer special deals for visitors and locals alike. Edgewood Mayor John Bassett, is pleased to welcome visitors to the region during late June to experience Cowboy Days hospitality, capped off by the End of Trail gathering.
“This event, and events like this, are vitally important to us because of the positive exposure they bring to our town.” Bassett said. “This event has a positive economic impact on Edgewood and the East Mountain region, and visitors get to see first-hand our beautiful town.”
Visitor spending is important to local businesses, and is quite relevant for local municipalities, like Edgewood, Moriarty, and Tijeras. They rely heavily on gross receipts revenue generated by sales within their incorporated boundaries in order to provide community services, such as police, fire, and roads.
When businesses see an influx of visitors during End of Trail, they increase employee hours to serve the added need. That results in additional spendable income for the employees. Further, additional merchandise and supplies are purchased by businesses to keep pace with the higher volume of customers, too. This is a compounding effect of dollars circulating in the local economy, known as a multiplier.
According to Terry Crawford, PhD, of New Mexico State University, it is reasonable, in New Mexico’s economy, to assume a rough multiplier of 2 times the original new income when considering the effects of money circulation within the local economy. With that in mind, SASS likely brings $6.2 in economic benefit to this region just through End of Trail.
SASS and Founders Ranch also employ local residents, host regular weekend matches, and operate Central New Mexico’s premiere shooting sports facilities at Founders Ranch – all of which add additional dollars to the local economy throughout the year. SASS members and events, like End of Trail, provide a tremendous contribution to our local economy.