If success is measured by an uptake in attendance and sales and crowded streets and storefronts, then the Willits Hometown Celebration on Friday was a resounding triumph for Willits Frontier Days. The non-profit organization took over from the Chamber of Commerce organizing this year’s event, but they had quite a bit of help from key local merchants and supporters.
A spokesperson from one of Willits’ biggest retailers said the feedback for the event was overall a positive response.
Other organizations involved included the Willits FFA, Imagination Station Preschool, and Willits High School Football.
“The vendors seemed happy, we worked really hard to get more vendors and to spread it out to more businesses north of commercial street,” the organizer said. “We made sure to include businesses on the south side of town which had never participated in the past.”
Some of these included Dripworks, Sparetime Supply and Big Daddy Garden Supply.
Chloe Retzloff, manager at Monkey Wrench Men’s and Women’s wear, said she thought it was the busiest Hometown Celebration the store has had in terms of sales in several years.
“It was awesome,” said Diana Hosford, manager at Spare Time Garden Center. “It was a bigger turnout with more vendors. The people who organized it did a great job. I think it brings the town together, it’s great for the whole community because Frontier Days always brings people out. I saw that everybody was happy and there were more bands than in the past. The town pulled together.”
Other local merchants agreed with Hosford’s assessment of an increase in participation and attendance.
“I thought it was a very good turnout with more people than in previous years,” said Misty Blough, owner of Misty Made and Sew Much More. Blough added she thought this year’s scavenger hunt brought more people into her store and was good exposure for a lot of the local retailers.
According to Blough, this year each business picked one item and gave scavenger hunters a hint about what it was. Participants had to get 15 stamps from the various stores in order to be in the running for $200 worth of gift certificates and raffle prizes. Bough said her store’s kids crafts had a great response.
Blough said it was also a good idea for the organizers to waive the $50 fee usually charged to vendors to allow them to have a space or a booth in the event.
“They also did a good job with social media getting the word out,” she said. “Most of us did at least one or two posts on Facebook in the weeks prior.”