BELLE FOURCHE — As the summertime event’s halfway point approaches, attendance figures illustrate a surge in popularity for the Belle Fourche Hometown Thursdays, quadrupling the number of attendees at July 17 event, compared to 2015’s estimations.
The nine-week community event features a variety of performers consisting of local and regional bands and family-friendly activities and entertainment.
The free event was fashioned in 2012 after numerous local business owners saw the popularity of similar events in surrounding communities.
Hometown Thursdays Committee member Craig Knapp told the Pioneer that the committee has stepped up its game and brought in more popular performers and the community has reacted positively.
“It is paying off,” Knapp said.
Knapp said that increased sponsorship has facilitated in attracting bigger musical acts.
The average attendance on any given Thursday last year, said Knapp, was around 600 people, and 300 in 2014.
At the June 30 event during which Judd Hoos performed, an estimated 2,000 people were in attendance; Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band performed July 17 and the estimated attendance came in at close to 2,500 people.
Knapp speculated that the event’s popularity influx is due to the more popular entertainment and getting the word out via social media to a larger pool of people.
“Getting people in the habit of remembering that there is something to do on Thursday nights is the biggest part,” he said.
Knapp said he’s excited about the increase.
“I’m really surprised, I did not expect it,” he said.
Knapp said the committee has been working, in conjunction with the city council and public works department, to add an additional block and a half of space along State Street, more than doubling the event’s current space.
Knapp also contributed the event’s success to a good working relationship between the eight-person committee and Belle Fourche Police Chief Scott Jones, the city council, and Public Works Director Dirk Hoffman.
The committee member said the only thing he would change next year would be to procure more volunteers to assist with the hands-on management of the evening event.
“I’m really excited about how it has gone so far,” Knapp said.
So far this year, the committee has donated more than $1,200 back to the three volunteer groups that assist with the event including the local 26-member Bike MS team: Chickenlegs, Belle Fourche’s Parents Who Care, and Purple Pride.
Today, the two-time Eagle Country Showdown winner, Zeona Road will perform in downtown Belle Fourche from 6-9 p.m.
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