Letter: From boom to bustGreat expectations, when not realized, bring great disappointment.
By: James W. Pratt, River Falls, River Falls Journal
Great expectations, when not realized, bring great disappointment.
For a year we have heard about the benefits that Farm Tech Days would bring to River Falls. Last Friday, in a Saint Paul Pioneer Press article headed, “Soggy Ag Expo Ends Early,” Executive Secretary Greg Andrews was quoted as saying, “We had very, very large turnouts on Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Just how big were the turnouts that were projected to be 60,000 to 80,000? Andrews doesn’t say, but observations of some at the site estimate attendance at a fraction of that number.
And what of the economic benefit, estimated by an agricultural economist at UW-Madison to bring $2.8 million to River Falls? Talk to downtown business owners and you’ll find stories that range slightly upward from “disastrous.”
In many cases, businesses put on extra staff, bought more food, and planned special entertainment, only to find fewer customers than last year.
Nothing seemed to be done to attract people from the site into River Falls: Traffic bypassed the city on Cemetery Road; remote parking was in Ellsworth, rather than River Falls, at the high school or Ramer Field; and the promised free dinner for the several hundred vendors, scheduled for Veterans Park on Tuesday, was cancelled just weeks before the event.
Finally, on Thursday, as the rain subsided and cars were towed from the mud of the Peterson farm, Main Street business owners watched from their empty stores as a parade of grim-faced drivers with colorful wristbands fled River Falls in their mud-covered vehicles.
We won’t have another Farm Tech Days in River Falls within any of our lifetimes, but we can learn from our unsatisfied expectations to be somewhat more skeptical of enthusiastic boosters of grand out-of-town events making promises they can’t keep.