The Impact of an ‘Impact Weekend’

By Peyton Gigante

The rain had an impact on Miami’s Homecoming last Saturday, but Homecoming weekend still packed a wallop for the city of Oxford.

Homecoming is one of five “impact weekends” during the school year that local civic and business leaders count on to spur the local economy, said Jessica Greene, director ofEnjoy Oxford, the city’s visitors’ bureau. The five weekends are Move-in Weekend, Homecoming, Family Weekend, Graduation and Alumni Weekend.

 An impact weekend for Oxford means more than just masses of people crowding the streets and traffic jams on US 27 and OH 73. It also means fully-booked hotels from Hamilton to Richmond and increased revenues for businesses all over Butler County, Greene said.

“We’re sold out (of hotel space) on weekends like this. When we call it an impact weekend it means we’re sold out regionally,” she said. “It impacts not just Oxford, but towns throughout all of Butler County.”

These impact weekends hit uptown businesses. In addition to the10 local hotels and others in nearby towns, resorts at Brookville Lake and Hueston Woods State Park also are booked up on most of these weekends. And when the visitors aren’t in their rooms, they eat and drink in local restaurants and bars and stock up on party staples such as ice and plastic cups.

“Typically, we have several thousand people come in for these weekends, and that number has been very steady over the last couple of years,” Greene said.

Having more people in town also means more police patrols, yet the crowds during Homecoming were well-behaved, said Lt. Lara Fening of the Oxford Police Department.

“It was a busy weekend (for police), but I’m not attributing that to homecoming,” she said. She noted it also was the first full weekend of the new semester, with lots of students out and about in the town for the first time.

Over the past weekend there were 48 EMS calls, including 22 related to drugs and alcohol, as well as 18 fire calls. Last year on the same weekend there were 32 EMS calls with 12 being drug or alcohol related, according to the police department’s weekend update Facebook posting.

“Around homecoming, a lot of alumni come back to town, and students’ families are visiting,” said Allyson Cecil, chairman of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce. “We do have quite a few people that come into the Uptown area, and business does increase around Oxford.”

Preparing for these weekends can mean more than stocking up on Red Solo cups and asking employees to work extra shifts. It also means primping the town for the visitors.

“We painted windows and hung Miami flags around town, because this Homecoming weekend is important for the community around Oxford as well,” Greene said. “People are here to visit, and linger and stay. You’re enjoying the town of Oxford. It’s a really different type of visit, and there’s a lot of impact there.”

As officials counted the costs and benefits of Homecoming this week, they also were gearing up for the impact of Family Weekend, Sept. 28-30.