Local business seeing effect of World Ag Expo
Finding a vacancy at a local hotel this week might prove quite a challenge, as most of these establishments are completely booked thanks to the World Ag Expo.
On Tuesday, many Porterville hotels including the Holiday Inn, Best Western and Motel 6, were sold out. In Lindsay, roughly 10 miles away, the Super 8 motel on Highway 65 was also booked.
Year after year, the farm show brings thousands of visitors to Tulare County who need a place to sleep, eat and play. A large portion of them flock to Porterville, hitting local eateries and hotels.
“We definitely see the impact locally on our restaurants and our hotels, as there are over 100,000 people that are expected to attend,” said Donnette Carter, president and CEO of the Porterville Chamber of Commerce. “They normally fill up the hotels in all of the outlying communities and as far south as Bakersfield and north to Fresno and even Madera, so I’ve heard.”
She said that on average, if a visitor is staying in the community, they might spend somewhere around $140 on food, lodging and gas.
According to John Salas, general manager of the Best Western hotel, all of the hotel’s 115 rooms were occupied Monday.
“We sold out last night and we expect to be sold out tonight as well,” he said. “This is probably the only time that we sell out like this, except for Memorial Day, which is also a good weekend to sell out, but usually we don’t have this type of business throughout the year — nothing like the farm show.”
Salas said that hotel guests come from all over the country and from all over the world, including places like Japan, Australia and Italy. Most guests, he said, are vendors who provide equipment at the show for sales and buyers looking to get deals on equipment.
Many of the hotel’s clientele visit the area specifically for the farm show and another portion are first-timers, he said.
Dave Monroe, relief general manager at Motel 6, said Tuesday the 106-room hotel was also completely booked.
“Things are doing good because it’s farm week,” Monroe said, adding that the World Ag Expo represents a guaranteed sold out event for the local motel.
Both Monroe and Jay Patel, general manager of Super 8 motel in Lindsay, said many guests make their reservations for next year’s World Ag Expo the day they leave.
“Every year we’re sold out and this year, they’re going to book for 2014 when they check out,” Patel said.
According to Carter, in previous years, restaurants have reported being busier throughout the week.
Alicia Gutierrez at El Tapatio said farm show week is the equivalent of a holiday weekend in terms of sales. She said it provides the local Mexican restaurant with a “steady week.”
“They come from all over. Some come from Montana, from Mexico, we even had some people who came from Spain. It’s big,” she said, adding that many who visit the restaurant are referred there by others at the show.
Even for newer businesses, such as Dickey’s Barbecue Pit on Main Street, the effect of the World Ag Expo has already become evident.
Owner Ed Phillips said Monday he is looking for things to pick up during the week.
“Right now, our lunch is our busiest time of day,” Phillips said. “What I’m looking forward to is picking up our dinner, when people come back from the show.”
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.