The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Organizers pleased with festival turnout

 

Kevin Wilson

Warrant lead singer Robert Mason performs at the Draggin' Main Music Festival.

CLOVIS — The dust is still settling on Clovis' first official "Draggin' Main Music Festival," and the comprehensive numbers on attendance and economic impact won't be certain for at least another week, organizers said.

Yet by several metrics, it was apparent that the programming last week had the city straining at its seams to accommodate the turnout of vehicles and spectators.

"It's tough to say, but I think that everything we did this year that we'd done before was bigger this year," said Derek Cockrell, who headed the event committee. "Financially, we estimate that the economic impact is going to be above a million dollars, but it takes some time to kind of nail that stuff down."

Until then, certain data points are still revealing. Gene Porter said the Gearhead Gathering during the first half of Saturday "was the biggest ever, by far," with 6,000 attendees then compared to about 4,500 last year.

"We had 300-plus cars in the Gearhead Gathering. We had so many cars that we didn't have a place to put them all. So that's a great problem to have," he told The News. "I also know the food vendors did tremendous, I think every one of them sold out."

Some sold out earlier than others; Porter said one vendor told him he sold 400 pounds of meat before sundown and that "if he had twice the amount of meat he would have sold every bit of it."

Porter estimated a total turnout of at least 15,000 people during the Draggin' Main event Saturday night, about on par with last year's attendance. Those numbers included "a tremendous amount of out-of-towners" from across the country and across the pond, so to speak.

"We love that everybody loves bringing their cars out," Cockrell said. "It's awesome seeing all the cool cars, and that people don't feel like their car has to be a certain year or in pristine shape."

With Draggin' Main as the culmination of a week of activities including concerts and drive-in tours across the city, Cockrell said it represented "a perfect marriage" of two major signposts of Clovis history since the mid-century. For him, the highly-attended concert Friday night of two popular 1980s bands couldn't have been a more perfect match.

"We jammed out," he said. "I personally jammed out to bands like Warrant and Steelheart (while driving down Main Street in decades past)."

Total estimated ticket sales across three concerts last week exceeded last year's sum by about $6,000, Cockrell said, with $22,000 in sales across two concerts in 2017 and almost $29,000 this year.

"This year on Friday night alone we had almost $18,000 (and 1,100 tickets sold). We made almost on Friday night alone what we did last year. It was a big night for us and it was a fantastic show," he said. "Two of the shows (Doug Stone and "Remembering Bobby Vee") were on weeknights, so those were kind of lightly attended as a general rule."

Concurrent with many of the concerts were tours of classic Clovis drive-in restaurants and tours at the Norva Jak Studios where Buddy Holly and others recorded.

Porter emphasized the importance of event sponsors in putting on the program, seconded only by the attendees themselves.

"The other side of the coin is the community that comes out and supports it," he said. "If we don't have you guys come out, man, we have nothing."

Porter said the biggest change that might be called for next year was simply a larger venue for the Gearhead Gathering, something capable of holding 500 cars or more. Probably 60 cars had to be turned away this year.

"It was big. It was big," Cockrell added. "We were really pleased. Of course, we're also exhausted."

 

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