When CBS News wanted to know the financial impact of pandemic-canceled fairs and festivals on Mainers and the state’s economy, they turned to Dr. Ryan Wallace, director of the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at USM.
As reported by CBS News, Wallace says the cancellations are costly to Maine, which typically hosts more than 160 fairs and festivals a year. The pandemic caused state employment in leisure and hospitality to dip by about 50 percent between February and May 2020, says Wallace, with tens of millions in economic activity lost to this year’s cancellations. According to a 2016 study produced by the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at USM, the Fryeburg Fair annually contributes more than $21.5 million alone to the regional GDP.
Wallace told CBS News this year's circuit is "make or break" for many of the state’s small, family-operated businesses. "Plenty of craftsmen go to these festivals,” he said. “Those sales can cover their expenses for the year."