Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Delivers BIG Economic Impact to the Grand Traverse Region

Kaely Tomeu and Gentille
Kaely Tomeu and Gentille competing at the 2017 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival.

Traverse City, Mich. – Oct. 3, 2017 – The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), an annual equestrian event held in Grand Traverse County showcasing some of the world’s finest riders and horses, is proud to announce their economic impact results for the 2017 summer event. The study was performed by Sports Management Research Institute (SMRI), a market leader experienced with over one thousand survey engagements spanning 22 years. SMRI pioneered fan engagement and feedback platforms in the sport industry when most sport clients were not fan-consumer market driven.

SMRI found the combined total economic impact of the 2017 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival to be estimated at $124,414,947.

The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival and its CEO/director Matt Morrissey is proud of what the festival has become and the impact it has had regionally.

“We decided to do an economic impact study because of our future plans of expanding the festival’s season and enhancing the facility,” said Morrissey. “We wanted to get a clear picture of our market and SMRI provided us that unbiased market research that supports our goals of expansion. In doing so, we also discovered through SMRI’s research the tremendous economic impact the festival has on the Grand Traverse area annually.”

The festival brings immense business stimulation locally, which impacts hoteliers, air service, restaurant owners, entertainment and arts enterprises, local transport and many forms of retailers. Traverse City Tourism CEO and President Trevor Tkach emphasizes he couldn’t be more thrilled to be an advocate of GLEF.

“This event fits in perfectly in Traverse City and its surrounding areas,” said Tkach. “It adds to the area’s diversity of nationally recognized events and introduces an entirely new audience to the magic of northern Michigan.”

The festival, which runs through the months of July and August, is unique in many ways. To start, GLEF visitor attendees spend an average of over $1,000 each day, a significant increase of spending compared to the typical visitor regionally profiled. In addition, the GLEF participant’s average household income is reported at $225,000 (top 5 percent nationally) with 18 percent earning over $500,000. The high socioeconomic status of visitors profiled attending the 2017 GLEF as mentioned above is critical for healthy economic infusion regionally, particularly in the regional tourism segments. National studies conducted clearly point to the fact that GLEF differentiates itself from other regional events such as the NCAA bowl games and professional sports leagues in the type of socioeconomic visitor they are attracting. For example, the average GLEF travel party was 10.2 members and was estimated to spend close to $3,282 per day in the local economy.

The spending attributed to these visitors and consumers include an extended average length of stay, the sizable per diem expenses reported per out-of-town visitors on tourism and horse related expenditures and a high average visitor household income (HHI). A staggering 76.7 percent of out-of-town visitors revealed that they had a “more favorable” impression of the region as a result of their tourism experiences during the 2017 GLEF event. The prospects for return visits and future business to the region remains very high with 90.27 percent of people indicating they plan to return to the region in the next calendar year. It should also be noted that, directly and indirectly, GLEF created 1,510 jobs in a variety of industries throughout the region.

The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival conducted this economic impact study in coordination with SMRI and CEO Kathleen Davis. SMRI is an industry leader in conducting unbiased external market research, delivering unparalleled results on the impact on local/regional marketplaces and economies. SMRI works with Major League Baseball, the National Football League, NASCAR and many of the top equine and horse events across the country.

For more information on GLEF visit:

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed