(Photo | by Rick Schafer)
If you’ve ever looked at the City of Sisters yearly event calendar, you’ll notice that it’s jam packed with something to do just about every single week of the year. From smaller events like the Glory Daze Car Show and craft fairs in the park to massive, multi day events such as the annual Sisters Rodeo, Outdoor Quilt Show and Folk Festival–these events stimulate the Sister’s economy in a major way.
Jeri Buckmann, visitor center and event manager, has been with the Sisters Chamber of Commerce for over sixteen years. She reports that, “In the last few years, [Sisters] has seen growth since the years when the economy was down [2008-2010]. There was a decline [along with]the housing market, real estate and job market.”In the past eight years, however, the local economy has greatly improved. With new businesses opening and lodging expansions, Sisters continues to be a hotbed of major activity bringing in tens of thousands of visitors each year.
“People don’t just come for the events,” Buckmann says. “They come for the shopping, the restaurants and the outdoor activities right in our backyard.”
So just how well does all the yearly hullabaloo stimulate the Sisters economy? “Very, very well,” says Buckmann, who also oversees the City of Sisters Facebook page, coordinates the Rodeo parade and has several volunteer duties during most events.
Sisters Summer Events
Event season kicks off on the second weekend in June, with the Sisters Rodeo, appropriately named the Biggest Little Show in the World. Next year will be its 77th year, continuing a City of Sisters tradition that has seen many ups and downs. The Sisters Rodeo not only has a draw for top competitors, it brings
travelers from all over the west, bringing in several million dollars to the local economy. During this three day event, all accommodations, including hotels, campgrounds and RV parks are at full capacity.
Local restaurants and bars become venues for after rodeo events and shops extend hours for visitors.
In July, the city hosts the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (SOQS), the largest of its kind in the world. This event brings quilters and spectators from all fifty states and several foreign countries to experience the beautiful art of quilting in scenic Central Oregon.
The SOQS, a nonprofit organization, not only manages to bring in thousands of people, it has a huge impact on the Sisters economy in the millions. After paying expenses for the one day event, the SOQS donates an average of $18,000 yearly to student athletic
clubs, volunteer firefighters and several service organizations.
While August is a short rest period for the City, the changing winds of September bring the annual Sisters Folk Festival, a three day event, transforming the city itself into a live venue for great music, food, art and a true sense of community. It also brings in a lot of cash. An economic impact study on the Sisters Folk Festival in 2014 reported that travelers spent$1.2 million dollars during its entirety.
This amount included money spent on lodging, food, beverage and retail. Festival spending is expected to have doubled this year with more performers, new venues and more food and beverage vendors.
Sisters Fall Events
With the true changing of the seasons, Sisters will host two major events at the beginning of October.
On October 1 hundreds will descend on Village Green Park to taste beer containing the freshest crop of hops at the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival.
“This event is for serious beer drinkers who love hoppy beer,” says Ryan Johnson, a self-proclaimed professional beer drinker and bartender. Drinking beer means eating food and while mobile food vendors will be on site, it’s a chance for visitors from other Central Oregon cities and beyond to eat at local restaurants which is the goal for every event in Sisters.
The weekend right after is the Harvest Faire, which brings in the visitors from all over Oregon. “Even though there are visitors to Sisters all year long, the Harvest Faire is one of the last major events that people come for before settling in for the fall and winter,” says Buckmann.
This two day fair will feature arts and crafts from several vendors along with food trucks and activities for kids. This event brings in several thousand people and with that, more money into the local economy.
Buckmann is looking forward to the Harvest Faire, however just like every other event, she’s concerned about the traffic. “It’s always an issue”, she says, but somehow people always end up moving along, finding a place to park and having a wonderful time in our little City of Sisters.”