Event brings money, commerce to town

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Earlier this year New Mexico Civil War re-enactors were surprised and confounded when the city of Socorro’s mayor and city council refused Socorro Civil War event organizer Charles Mandeville lodgers’ tax funding for the 2013 Battle of Valverde anniversary and re-enactment. Over the years that amount has varied between $2,000 and $5,000. This was an annual and much-needed and appreciated assist. The mayor’s conclusion was that our event offered nothing to the city of Socorro’s economy.

We would like to see the marketing study upon which the mayor based his conclusion, suspecting there is none and only an assumption that event participants “… stay in tents and compounds near the Escondida location of the re-enactment.” Yes, we do as part of our presentation, but where do you suppose we get supplies, food, motels and gas? I would like to offer evidence that the event brings some pretty good money to Socorro’s economy.

The annual commemorative event — Battle of Valverde and Texan Occupation of Socorro — can bring about 100 reenactors and families to the county, about 150-200 total. We, in fact, patronize the city to enjoy the restaurants, get supplies and get gas, and a lot of our families stay at Socorro motels. We use the Garcia Opera House for an historically accurate military ball to which the public has always been invited. We know that over a three-day weekend, out-of-county event participants each spend $300 in your city. Quite a few participants come from Phoenix, Denver and Dallas and points in between, and sometimes from other states.

With the exception of three re-enactors in Socorro County, all other New Mexico reeanactors are from the Albuquerque-Taos region, Roswell-Carlsbad region and Las Cruces region. One hundred fifty reenactors means a potential of $45,000 into the Socorro economy. On a three-day weekend we have counted up to 1,000 people visiting from New Mexico and surrounding states. If half of those are out-of-county visitors, are a three-person family and spend $300 each, that is $50,000 that we have influenced the city of Socorro’s economy by our event. We use the internet and our event website in our Heritage Tourism effort to attract visitors to Socorro city and county.

Finally, each January, we conduct a “Civil War Live Fire” at the Socorro Gun Range. Thirty out-of-county re-enactors attend this and patronize the city for restaurants, supplies and gas. We each spend about $200, which is $6,000 into the Socorro economy.

With event re-enactors, 1/2 out-of-county visitors and Live Fire, the Civil War reenactment community brings about $101,000 into the Socorro economy. We are thus very interested in just what constitutes the threshold for the disallowance of lodgers’ tax in support of our event.