Water Ski Days. All we can say is WOW!
We are still recovering from what can only be called an EPIC 100th anniversary of water skiing and 50th Water Ski Days weekend in Lake City.
We are still compiling lots of information regarding the successes of the milestone weekend, but here are some very rough estimates concerning some important metrics.
- Carnival ride sales were up about 50% over 2021
- Concert attendance up more than 50% over 2021
- Total number of Arts and Crafts vendors up about 25% over 2021
- Parade Units up about 50% over 2021
- Sponsorships up over 100% from 2021
Keep in mind that 2021 had already set some records! Aaaaand, in addition to these staggering numbers, we also estimate that there were over 20,000 visits to the fair and downtown Lake City over the course of the 4 day event.
I’ve heard from a number of local businesses who’ve told us that they experienced banner sales the weekend of Water Ski Days, and I’ve got to say, it felt especially good to get those thank yous.
Another big success story from the event can be found in the collaborations with organizations like USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Foundation, The Water Ski Hall of Fame, and Visit Central Florida. Our office, in conjunction with Destination Lake City, worked with these folks for the better part of a year to bring things to Lake City like the free “Get on the Water” event with champion skiers, the temporary Hall of Fame Exhibition, and the 82-year old stilt skier Glen Sperry. They also helped us tell our story nationally with their publicity and outreach.
We added extra water ski shows in 2022, for which our returning show team, Ski Dox, recruited a whole host of top regional performers from other show teams to join them in Lake City for our special weekend.
… And then there are all the local groups we collaborate with for the event: The Lions Club, Rotary, DLC, Lake City Area Arts, and more…
Of course, the above is awesome, but a huge story lies in the incredible earned media Lake City received in the lead up to, during, and after the event. Mind you, we’re still finding more out there and will add to this list as we uncover them.
- TV News features or mentions on: WCCO, KTTC, KSTP, Fox 9.
- Magazine Features or mentions in: Big River, Minneapolis St Paul Magazine, Water Ski Magazine, Boat US Magazine, Boating Magazine, Lakeland Boating Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Rochester Magazine.
- Newspaper Features or mentions in Post Bulletin, Star Trib, Pioneer Press, and Lake City Graphic.
- Newsletter Features from: Explore Minnesota, USA Water Ski and Wake Sport.
- Radio Features or mentions on: Minnesota 97.5 (with web and social media mentions), WJON, Lake Hits 95, and KWNG.
I’ve been working in tourism for a while now, and that kind of media attention doesn’t just happen, and should be celebrated. Earned media is the gold-standard in this business, and it delivers a wealth of attention and credibility for Lake City in a way that paid advertisements never could touch. It’s also important to remember that it is the result of numerous folks and organizations (including the Chamber) working diligently to spread the word through their networks and channels.
Lastly, we need to give a resounding thank you to all the folks that helped make it happen.
First, to our volunteers. We adore you. We recruited around 100 folks to make this event run and they made it hum better than ever. From Heidi Myers Schwer’s superb work on the parade, to Ed Labrash’s swan song with the beer tent entertainment, to the Lion’s Club’s all-around assistance, to all the bartenders, ticket sellers, fence setter uppers, button sellers, committee members, etc., we are humbled with gratitude for your efforts.
Next, to our sponsors. You came out in record numbers with your donations, and we couldn’t be more appreciative. You are the reason for the expanded programing, extra day of fun, and special entertainment. While we are so thankful for all the businesses, individuals, and organizations that stepped up, we need to give a special shout out to Hearth and Home Technologies for being our Water Ski 100 Presenting Sponsor. Not only did HHT help make all the extra water ski events and programming possible, but they raised an army of volunteers to help set up, work at, and tear down the event.
Third, to our vendors. It is such a treat to work with all of you. Whether you run a food truck, play in a band, make the bands look and sound good, print our merchandise, bring us the beverages, deliver our toilets and trash cans, sell your crafts in the park, or make sure our equipment is functioning properly (looking at you Nick Majerus), you are at the heart of the event.
Fourth, to the City of Lake City. At some point throughout the year, we are pretty sure that everyone who works for the city has had Water Ski Days come across their desk. We are so fortunate to have such great municipal partners. While everyone who works for every department (or who serves on Council or on city commissions) deserves a huge thank you, we want to give a special thanks to Melissa Krier, Bruce Wallerich, Tom Kuchinka, Jeff Brand, and Lake City’s Ambulance, Fire, and Police Departments for helping make this year’s event such a huge success.
Finally, to the attendees. This event is for YOU. Water Ski Days brings us together, entertains us, helps us forget our troubles, and fills us with community pride. We appreciate each and every person who bought a concert ticket, a corn dog, or a ticket for a ride. Thank you.
We’ve already started thinking about next year’s Water Ski Days, and what we can do to ride the wave of this year’s success into the future. But in the meantime, we still have lots to look forward to in the upcoming months: The Chamber Golf Tournament, The Y-Knot Tri, Float-a-Palooza, Fall Fest, Johnny Appleseed Days, Doe Days, etc.
We hope to see you out and about.