If Ogden can't make WinterFest an economic reality every year, that's a real shame. In 2011, about 15,000 persons enjoyed the event. Last year it was canceled due to a lack of snow. This year we had snow to spare, but apparently not enough cash in the city coffers to put it on. We have a suggestion for Ogden city officials: Don't give up on WinterFest. In fact, next year put WinterFest on and market it as a pair with Ogden's role in the Sundance Film Festival.
Taking that approach is worth trying. Despite its perpetual existence in Junction City, the Sundance Film Festival is not a money-maker for Ogden city.
According to a study from the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, an applied research center at the University of Utah, in 2012 most Sundance film-goers who attended films in Ogden were locals. That is bad news for Ogden's lodgings and restaurants, because these film-goers don't need a room or have to eat out. They have homes.
With these two dilemmas hampering WinterFest and Ogden's thin slice of the Sundance Film Festival, it makes sense to try to make WinterFest an attractive enough event to lure out-of-towners attending Sundance to come to Ogden. These visitors would enjoy the attractions, events, competitions and entertainments of WinterFest and the films provided by Sundance festival.
If these two events were marketed as paired attractions, we believe that the fiscal bottom lines for Ogden city, as well as local restaurants and lodging locations, can improve. It will take an entrepreneurial spirit, a lot of brainstorming, a solid business plan, and the enthusiasm and belief to make it happen.
It's a challenge to our local business leaders and officials, but it's a lot better than another canceled WinterFest and the current collective "big deal" from Ogden businesses that accompanies our portion of Sundance.