The nation’s first-ever, community-wide festival of laughter, Gilda’s LaughFest, announced this morning the festival will be celebrating its fifth anniversary March 5-15, 2015. Also, announced today are preliminary results of an economic impact study from Grand Valley State University. The study indicates LaughFest created a $3.2 million economic impact on the region.
“We are excited as we ramp-up efforts for our fifth year,” said Joanne Roehm, festival director of LaughFest. “Last year more than 50,000 individuals purchased tickets to LaughFest. We are happy with the results for LaughFest, but we are extremely pleased to show the economic impact LaughFest has created for Grand Rapids and the region.”
LaughFest is the nation’s only 10-day community-wide festival of laughter and attracted 50,000 attendees from across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom during its fourth annual event. The festival features laughter in all its forms from stand-up comedy and improv to film, music, and a variety of seriously funny stuff.
Other highlights from the economic impact study show $1.7 million in new spending occurred in the region, with spending by individuals from outside Grand Rapids increasing 50% this year compared to last year. Per person spending during 2013’s LaughFest was $34.48 and increased to $49.97 during the festival’s 2014 event, a 45% increase. The per person spending takes into account such items as lodging, meals and transportation costs, which are additional to the costs associated with buying tickets to LaughFest shows.
“When LaughFest began in 2011, our goal was to create a festival of laughter for the health of it that would not only raise awareness for the programs of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, but raise awareness for the West Michigan region,” said Wendy Wigger, president of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. “We are thrilled the numbers presented by the economic impact study show that LaughFest is a primary reason individuals are visiting the region.”
Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids provides free emotional healthcare to children adults, families and friends on any kind of cancer journey or those grieving the death of someone in their life due to any cause. The comprehensive program, delivered by licensed healthcare professionals includes education, structured sharing times, networking, lectures, workshops and social activities. Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is one of the largest and busiest of the 52 affiliates in North America. The organization runs entirely on charitable donations and currently serves more than 10,000 individuals each year at its clubhouses in Grand Rapids and Lowell, Mich., in various schools and in five community centers. For more information, visit www.gildasclubgr.org.