Attendance on Saturday, Sept. 7, and Sunday, Sept. 8, was 25 percent lower than in 2012, according to Sofia Valenzuela, chamber president.
Valenzuela acknowledged that with an influx of out-of-area sellers, the Tracy Dry Bean Festival has lost some of its “Tracy.”
“I’ve gotten several comments about that, where it seems like the festival, over the years, has become more commercial and not more dedicated to the local artisan,” Valenzuela said. “We are trying to get back, some way, somehow, to bringing more of our local flair to the event.”
Valenzuela said the chamber booked 20 percent more local businesses than 2012 but is actively trying to attract more community vendors.
“I think we need to do a better job of marketing here locally to our vendors and local artisans so they know about the opportunity and are not waiting until the last minute to turn in applications,” the chamber president said. “Commercial businesses, we have no trouble attracting them. They want to be there. It’s those unique vendors — artisans, food vendors and such — that we still struggle with trying to get to come out to the event.”
Valenzuela said including the weekly downtown farmers market in the bean festival was part of a plan to include more local growers. The Tracy Breakfast Lions and Tracy Sunrise Rotary both sold beer at the festival to raise money for community causes.
Now the chamber is planning to bring back a feature of past bean festivals by inviting school groups to participate.
“We’re trying to find a way that we can recapture that and have it feel more like a community festival,” Valenzuela said. “We have some ideas for next year.”
• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.