I have been the face painter for the Memorial Day and Labor Day festivals in Highlands for the past four years. Just before this past Labor Day festival, I heard that some of the local store owners thought we were taking business away from them. From my past experience, this is exactly the opposite from the truth. First, most of the vendors themselves (80 or more of them) eat their evening meals after the festival in your fine restaurants, and I’ve been known to take the opportunity to shop your lovely stores myself, as I’m sure do other vendors. Besides this, my husband, who has free reign while I man our booth, does his own share of shopping and he says that there are few free parking spaces available in your beautiful shopping district plus most of the stores seem to be doing good business. I, therefore, took it upon myself to take an unofficial survey. My question was: Did you come into town only because of the festival? 12-yes — 6-yes, but we’ll eat lunch here, too; 7-yes, but we plan to shop in a local store; 8-no we had business in town, but wanted to see the festival.
This survey was done sporadically in between my busy times. I’m sorry that I didn't get to ask everyone, but I believe that I got a pretty standard of the population who came to my booth. I also believe that because of the attendance these festivals receive, we will be sorely missed if we don’t show up next year, and it will anger your customer base. Several of my customers tell me that their children truly look forward to having their faces painted by Patti Cakes, and won’t let their parents forget to come. People flock from all over because of the quality of the craftsmen at our shows. Cynthia Strain has kept an exceptionally high quality show that people come in to see year after year. Your merchants should thank her for attracting this many people with extra spending money in their pocket and a desire to spend it both at our show and in town.
Patricia Daum — Franklin, N.C.