The three biggest events of the season at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds are set to begin signaling the start of the biggest month in Central Oregon tourism history that culminates with the Jeld-Wen Tradition at Crosswater Golf Club in Sunriver.
The Rally, attracting 4,000 luxury coaches and 10,000 visitors and vendors, kicks off the most prosperous 30-day period in local tourism history, opening July 19-22. The event was previously held at the fairgrounds in 2005 as the Great North American RV Rally and jammed the venue.
Fairgrounds manager Dan Despotopulos said vendors and exhibitors began arriving in Redmond on July 7 and booked 2,500 hotel rooms throughout the region. The show will have a $8 million impact on the local economy according to Redmond Chamber of Commerce director Eric Sande.
While vendors and exhibitors rent cars and stay in local hotels, RV owners generate healthy business at gas stations and grocery stores. Tours for visitors are also planned to the High Desert Museum, The Shops at the Old Mill District, Mt. Bachelor and Sisters.
Fairgrounds officials will have a brief moment to catch their breath and then begin preparations for the Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo scheduled August 1-5 with headline acts such as Eddie Money and Jo Dee Messina expected to help draw a quarter million visitors.
“We drew 235,000 to last year’s fair and I anticipate a six to seven percent increase this year which should push us to the quarter million mark and easily makes us the biggest event in Central Oregon,” Despotopulos said.
Eight days later, the Family Motor Coach Association’s 78th annual convention comes to the fairgrounds with another 4,000 luxury coaches and 10,000 visitors and exhibitors anticipated. It marks the first time that the nation’s two largest RV rallies have been scheduled at the same venue in the same year.
And as if fairground officials don’t have enough on their hands, the Idaho State Harley Davidson Rally has just been added to the fairground event calendar on August 22.
All of the activity has led county and fairground officials to hold off the official public opening of the new 110-space Deschutes County Fairgrounds RV Park until September 1, although rally officials and exhibitors will be utilizing the new park during setup, show dates and tear-down periods.
The scene shifts to Sunriver Resort on August 13-19 for the Jeld-Wen Tradition where the top senior men’s players in the world will converge at Crosswater Golf Club. Practice rounds begin August 15 along with the Nike Golf Junior Day. The tournament will bring an influx of visitors, participants and caddies, NBC and Golf Channel executives, event sponsors and golf enthusiasts to the high desert for the state’s largest professional golf tournament and a major event on the Champions Tour.
Peter Jacobsen Productions, which staffs, coordinates and manages the event, has opened a satellite office in Bend along with tournament director Mike Lee and executive vice president Mike Galeski.
Alana Audette, executive director of the Central Oregon Visitors Association, predicts a four to five percent increase in 2007 for the local tourism industry that generates $498 million annually for the local economy.
Despotopulos goes one step further, saying, “The one-month window has the potential to be the greatest period of tourism in the history of Central Oregon.”