ASHLAND, Or.- After the Oregon Shakespeare Festival canceled its performances for the rest of 2020, there is concern that more delays to the festival will continue to hurt an Ashland economy that relies on tourism.
Local businesses have already struggled with the coronavirus pandemic and recent fires. With OSF’s 2021 season start up in the air small businesses in Ashland are working even harder to stay afloat.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival may be the biggest economic driver for tourism in Ashland. If the season’s cancellations continue into 2021, it may put extra stress on places already struggling through a rough 2020.
One local business says it’s adjusted it’s business model to cater to a different type of visitor.
“It’s about getting people to come here for quick trips now because people are trying to escape the big city on a regular bases, and now escaping the big city is even more important,” Joe Quarto, owner of Amistad, said.
Amistad has only been open for a week, but Joe Quarto says being a new business means they were prepared for a difficult first year.
“Because that’s what we already planned on. That makes it a little tougher for folks who are just squeaking by right now.”
“It’s definitely been a challenge, a lot of stuff we have never dealt with before,” said Scott Brantsetter, assistant manager of the Ashland Springs Hotel. Brantstetter says the loss of OSF was a huge economic hit, but the hotel is still getting some business from the other side of the border.
“We are getting some traction from California because the fires in California have been worse than the fires in Oregon, if you can believe that.”
One Ashland businesses owner is looking to holiday shopping and regular local support to help make up the difference.
“I really want the Rogue Valley to really consider shopping as local as possible for this holiday season,” Pam Hammond said. Hammond is the owner of the Paddington Family of Stores.
OSF says they are waiting for direction from state officials on when and how live theatre can resume.
Grace Smith is a reporter for NBC5 News. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of the University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl.
Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it’s the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.