Page 44

Ken Riddick

festivals around the country also produce local economic impacts. Few of these festivals have the resources to quantify those effects, but anecdotal information indicates that even a small festival can make an economic difference to its community. Take the Round Top Festival Institute in Round Top, Texas, with a budget of about $1.2 million. The pianist James Dick started this professional training institute Royers Round Top Café does a brisk summertime business, thanks in part to the Round Top for classical musicians in 1971. He chose Festival Institute. the town of Round Top (which boasted we’re up high, we don’t get the Houston a population of 77 in the 2000 census, appreciate good food,” he says. “We plan humidity, but we still get southerly breezes making it the smallest incorporated city our life around those six weeks of the festioff the Gulf coast.” in Texas), and rented space on the town val. On Saturday, there are concerts at 3:30 The area has experienced considerable square, finding that “people were happy in the afternoon and then at 8 at night. economic growth since the institute first to put pianos in their homes for our ten We get a pop before lunch, and then we’re opened its doors. “When we came, there pianists to practice on.” The festival soon squeezing everyone in before the afternoon were no B&Bs; now there are about 60 in began to acquire its own property; it now concert, and then again before the evening the area,” Dick says. Grover Hillbolt, who has a 210-acre campus known as Festival concert. It’s a juggling act to get people in moved to the area when he retired in 1987, Hill complete with historic houses, nature and out—we’re not McDonald’s!” took over a local real estate office two years preserves, and concert spaces, including a Two other visitor-heavy events in the later. “I bought my land for concert hall seating 1,000 that area surround the institute period: an enoropened in 2007. The institute Since opening $200 to $400 an acre,” he mous antiques fair, with one week in April says. “Now, a nice place of 40 brings in 85 to 100 student and one in October, and Shakespeare at in 1971, Texas’s or 50 acres will cost $8,000 musicians, on scholarship, for Winedale, a theater festival put on by the Round Top to $10,000 an acre. If it’s its six-week session in June University of Texas, which runs from midFestival Institute close to town, or has a house and July, plus about 30 faculty July through the beginning of August. has been a big on it, that’s extra.” members. About 30 concerts, Both have been in existence for about 40 contributor to The institute has clearly including both orchestral and years, like the Festival. “This makes a pretty the economic played a role in that growth. chamber music, are presented big season for a small town,” Royer says. during the summer; another growth of the area “Festival Hill gives our place “People come every year, and that gives us a 20 are given during the rest of between Houston uniqueness not shared by any chance to build our name and brand.” and Austin. place in Texas,” Hillbolt says. the year. Many of the concerts For Royer, the institute’s presence has “It’s a beautiful area. People sell out. Festival Hill also hosts an impact far beyond its summer season. come to visit our B&Bs, and enjoy the a number of other events during the year, “People who have gone to a concert come countryside, the peace—there’s no traffic— including a poetry festival and an herbal foback at other times,” he says. “It gives name and Festival Hill is the frosting on the cake. rum for gardeners. recognition to the area. We have a mailPeople visit, attend a couple of concerts, The location turned out to be ideal for order business; we ship all over country. We and they think, ‘If I lived here, I’d attend the institute: as Bud Royer, have a catering business all over the state; more concerts than if lived in Houston.’ It’s owner of the town’s “gourwe cater parties in Houston and Austin that extra layer that people like.” met comfort food” restaufor people who have never been to Festival Bud Royer knows exactly what the rant, Royers Round Top Hill, but know of us because of it. They’ve Round Top Institute means to his bottom Café, puts it, “Round Top is enabled us to build our business, and stay in line. His 40-seat restaurant, which serves to Houston what the Hampbusiness. We make sure they have a couple high-end food and ships its famous pies tons are to New York City.” dozen pies every week during the season. Round Top Festival all over the country, “would not be in busiThe town is halfway between It’s the least we can do!” Institute Founder ness if it were not for Festival Hill,” he says. Houston and Austin, each and Artistic Director Royer took over the café in 1987, just as the about an hour away, and just Meanwhile, in Wisconsin… James Dick oil business in Texas collapsed. He moved an hour and a half from San The Peninsula Music Festival, now in its his family from Houston and scraped by for Antonio—all easy journeys in the Texas car 58th season, is a cultural amenity in a reseveral years, finally realizing that his cusculture. It is thus an attractive destination gion that is mostly about the great outdoors. tomers—the weekenders and second-home for day trippers, weekenders, second-home Door County, Wisconsin, the 80-mile-long owners—would be only too pleased to pay buyers, and retirees. “It’s like Connecticut, peninsula that protrudes thumb-like into more for quality food if paying more would with rolling hills and great weather,” James Lake Michigan, is sometimes known as keep the restaurant in business. “That’s the Dick rhapsodizes. “We have live oak trees the “Cape Cod of the Midwest” for its 300 clientele that comes to Festival Hill—they that are hundreds of years old, and because miles of continuous shoreline. It’s a lure for

42

symphony

m ay– j u n e 2 0 1 0

Symphonyonline may jun 2010