GRANTS PASS, Ore.– It’s the third day of Boatnik and the festival is booming with thousands of people visiting from far and wide. Food, carnival rides and of course, boats made for an exciting Memorial Day Weekend celebration.
For businesses in Grants Pass, it’s also a great boost to the economy. With loud, heart-pounding engines soaring through the water, it’s an exhilarating experience that has been driving people to the area for the last 60 years. With that much time under organizers’ belts, word has spread about the entertaining boat festival.
According to Grants Pass Active Club President Eric Hippler, it’s a great benefit for everyone in the community and helps give a boost to the local businesses.
“We’re getting people from out of town. It’s growing,” said Hippler. “We are the second largest festivity in the state of Oregon. It’s spreading. Word is spreading.”
For local businesses within the festival and around Grants Pass, foot traffic alone is great for business. From the parade through downtown on Saturday to the White Water Hydroplane race, people are everywhere.
Laurie Fuller, a new business owner, has always come out to the festival as a visitor. This year though, she’s on the other side serving up what she calls “crack” corn from her stand at Aunt Laurie’s Sweets.
“Everybody here around is just awesome,” she said. “I used to be the visitor and now I’m in here and I really just enjoy it. I’m looking forward to next year.”
Fuller says the response she’s been getting from not just locals but visitors outside of southern Oregon has been a huge opportunity.
“If you have the littlest thing just go out and just do it,” said Fuller. “It’s worth it.”
The festival vendors weren’t just restricted to businesses though. Groups like the Grants Pass High School Royals and Royalettes Dance & Guard are raising money to help send the marching band to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“We have to worry about our band fees for fall season as well cause we need new costumes, new silks,” said freshmen Elizabeth Handley. “We need to buy new props, new paint for the props.
We need a lot of things and it’s definitely not cheap being in a band.”
The team has been a part of Boatnik for several years now and it’s proven to be a great way to raise money while having a fun time.
“It raises us a lot of money and we also have a lot of fun in the process cause of we get to meet with friends and we get to hang out with them the whole entire time,” said Alyssa Sunshine, a Royalette. “It’s just, like, a really good way to fund raise money.”
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.