The team behind Crave Northwest, a foodie event held for the first time over Father’s Day weekend at CenterPlace, gave a brief report to the Spokane Valley City Council Tuesday evening.
The city paid $50,000 for marketing services provided by Vision Marketing, which organized the event together with Chef Adam Hegsted.
“I think it went great. We had chefs from all over the state and all over the country in the same place,” Hegsted said. “That is really amazing.”
Tom Stebbins, who co-owns Vision Marketing with his wife, Karen Stebbins, said the event was successful though some people had a difficult time understanding how it was structured.
“That’s something we will have to work on for next year,” Tom Stebbins said.
With celebrity chefs from all over the country, visitors could buy tickets for cooking demonstrations or for grand tastings or a weekend pass for the entire event.
Hegsted said it was key to get the chefs there, and Tom Stebbins said they’d gotten good feedback.
“The celebrity chefs added some legitimacy to the event,” Tom Stebbins said. “It got the local chefs there, too. They need to buy into an event like this.”
Karen Stebbins said feedback from guests and vendors said it was a great social event.
“Even with the rain – people were still staying around and eating,” Karen Stebbins said. “The rain was the only major detriment. And it was the last recorded rain in Spokane Valley.”
She added that among things to work on for next year is that the site – on the grass outside CenterPlace – was difficult to access by some people in wheelchairs, and the uneven ground made it difficult for some chefs to set up and cook.
“We also need more volunteers and more ‘buddy bars’ where people can stand or sit and eat their food,” Karen Stebbins said.
The Father’s Day brunch was more popular than anticipated and became “a bit unorganized” because of the high attendance, Hegsted said.
All together, 2,000 people from 11 states and Canada attended the event, which Tom Stebbins said resulted in an estimated 235 hotel nights.
The city’s sponsorship of Crave Northwest is the result of a tourism study that developed strategies to increase overnight stays and tourism-related spending in Spokane Valley. The study developed a list of projects after a series of workshops, interviews and surveys with Spokane Valley residents, businesses and the City Council.
Part of the proceeds from Crave Northwest would go to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Tom Stebbins explained that there were no proceeds, but Crave Northwest still donated $5,000 to the food bank “because we committed to it.”
Next year’s Crave Northwest will be July 12 and 13.
“We are moving the date into July hoping for better weather,” Karen Stebbins said.
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