Merchants hope big events locally ‘bring butts to town’ |

Merchants hope big events locally ‘bring butts to town’

Local merchants hope a plethora of events this weekend will make cash registers ring and keep western Nevada County’s streets full of tourists, providing an end-of-summer economic boost.

The bunting already is hanging from Broad Street storefronts in anticipation of a big weekend in Nevada City, where the 42nd annual Constitution Day parade rolls down Nevada City’s main street Sunday.

In Grass Valley, downtown boosters are hoping that activities at the nearby Nevada County Fairgrounds and a poetry wordslingers event at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building will bring tourists and their wallets to town.

“We need to do something to bring people back here,” said Steve Crowder, owner of the Confectionery Mine in Nevada City. “I don’t know what the answers are, but anything we do that brings butts to town is a good thing.”

Nevada City’s Summer Nights used to draw an average of 468 customers to his store just a few years ago, said Crowder. This year, he averaged 250 customers.

Across the street at Nevada City Traders, store clerk Louise Johnson also hoped this weekend will bring a much-needed economic boost.

“In this economy, there are a lot of people just looking, but we’re doing OK,” Johnson said.

The events are plentiful enough to draw heads.

Besides the Constitution Day Parade, they include the Barbara Schmidt Millar triathlon at Scotts Flat Lake, the Rotary Duck Race down Deer Creek in Nevada City, the Harvest Hoedown at the Nevada County Fairgrounds and the Gold Harvest Wine Trail, featuring tours of 12 different wineries on Saturday and Sunday.

“This weekend will certainly give us a boost,” said Mary Ann Mueller, chief executive of the Grass Valley/Nevada County Chamber of Commerce.

Mueller said she’s noticed more people taking day trips to events such as the wine trail.

“These are (events) that are helping us continue to grow,” she said.

The Board of Supervisors, cognizant of the work the chambers of commerce do to bring tourists to this area, committed $115,000 this past week for the 2008-09 fiscal year to the Nevada County Joint Chambers of Commerce, a consortium that includes Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee chambers.

A combination of factors, including the soft real-estate market, high gas prices and unemployment have made it a tough go for tourism-driven cities such as Nevada City, said Cathy Whittlesey, manager of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

The Constitution Day parade, she said, coupled with events that follow, such as the Draft Horse Classic, fall foliage, and in the winter, Victorian Christmas, should give the area a boost.

“We’re trying to bring as much enthusiasm to Nevada City as we can, and we need it,” she said.

To contact Staff Writer Dave Mirhadi, e-mail or call 477-4239.

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