Weekend Events Bring Wausau Millions


The city of Wausau got a big economic boost last weekend from two major sporting events and four festivals. Organizers are now looking at attracting even more events to town.

Last weekend was unprecedented in Wausau. The Junior World Canoe Slalom Championships brought in 300 athletes from 27 different countries. The girls’ fast-pitch softball tournament attracted 90 teams from around the state. Both happened the same weekend the city hosted its annual barbecue rib festival, hot air balloon rally, chalk art festival, and jazz festival. Richard Barrett is the sales director for the Wausau Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau and Sports Authority. He says the hotels were packed: “We were at about 96 percent occupancy. That was almost double over last year, so that is a huge shot in the arm. July is normally a very slow month, so the combination of everything that was going on really boosted the economy of Wausau.”

Barrett says the economic impact of just the two weekend sporting events is estimated at $3.4 million. The Sports Authority is now looking at capitalizing on the success by bringing the softball tournament back next year, and attracting other events like the world horseshoe championships. “Any time we host a large event like this, it makes the next one easier to get, because they feel that the community has experience.”

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Barrett says a lot of people pulled together to make it happen, “From the people that put on the events, to the people that put on the balloon rally, rib fest, jazz fest, chalk fest, everything else that was going on: it was a combined effort of everybody. It was a great combined effort.”

This year, the Wausau based Sports Authority also took over the Wisconsin Badger State Games.