Peacemaker Festival impact reaches $3.746 million; 2023 acts already being booked

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,727 views 

Peacemaker Festival organizers are touting a $3.746 million economic impact with its recently concluded 2022 event in downtown Fort Smith, and festival co-founder Trent Goins says one of the two 2023 headliners are already booked. But he ain’t saying who it is.

The 2022 festival – held July 29-30 – marked the eighth year for the live music event held in Harry E. Kelley Park in downtown Fort Smith. Just under 11,000 tickets were sold for the 2022 lineup that included Lukas Nelson and Zac Bryan, with 8,798 tickets scanned. Of the scanned (used) tickets, 7,038 were sold outside of Fort Smith zip codes, according to Goins.

Using a Michigan State University calculation, festival organizers estimated that each out-of-market ticket generated $175 in direct spending and $85 in induced spending. Goins said the original formula called for a $235 direct spending and $112 induced spending impact.

“But we adjusted that down, because we wanted it to be conservative. So we think that ($3.746 million) impact is pretty conservative. But it’s not a surprise, not for me anyway, when you consider that 40% of our ticket sales were outside of Arkansas. … We had tickets sold to people in 37 states,” Goins said.

Of the ticket sales, organizers say 14.5% were from the Little Rock area and 11.2% were from Northwest Arkansas.

In an ongoing effort to make the event more attractive to musicians, Goins said the festival in 2022 provided an “artists only” area backstage.

“It was a way to get the artists off their bus. And it was pretty surreal to just stand back and watch them work with each other and collaborate on ideas. Some of them know each other’s work, but in some cases they had never met, so it was good to see that,” Goins said.

He also said festival organizers have agreed to support artists by each year making a donation to the charity of one of the festival artists. This year they made a $20,000 donation to Jake E’s Round Up, a charity supported by Shane Smith and the Saints.

Working on the 2023 lineup began before the 2022 event began.

“Believe it or not, I was having conversations as early as June of this year for 2023. I’ve got one of the two headliners already booked,” Goins said.

He said booking acts for the festival are easier for two reasons. First, he said it takes about 8 to 10 years to “solidify yourself as an ongoing concern because so many of these fail.” Second, Goins co-owns the Majestic music venue on Garrison Avenue in downtown Fort Smith, and booking music there has helped him build industry relationships. Other Majestic owners are Steve Clark and Sarah Diebold.

He stressed during the interview with Talk Business & Politics that Peacemaker volunteers and sponsors are key to the events ongoing success.

“We’re a board of volunteers. There is no paid staff. We are it. And another thing, we couldn’t do it without our sponsors. We’ve had most of them from day one, and we really would not have had this level of success without them,” Goins said.

He also said the festival’s focus remains on supporting Fort Smith regional charities that help children. Since 2015, the festival has given more than $750,000 to several area charities, including Developmental Wings, Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter, Girls, Inc. of Fort Smith, Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club, Abilities Unlimited, Reynolds Cancer Support House, and Interfaith Preschool.

It will be later this year before Peacemaker announces donations from the 2022 proceeds.

“It usually takes us 60 to 90 days to close out the festival, to pay all the bills. So we will be making those (donation) announcements prior to Christmas. We’re all looking forward to it,” Goins said.