Students to decide impact of Alligator Festival

Along with chowing down on the unusual cuisine, listening to music and spinning around on rides, many Alligator Festival goers were asked to fill out a five question survey by students from the Satellite Center.

Now, those surveys will be analyzed to determine the festival’s economic impact on St. Charles Parish.

This is the second year that students from the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism course have collected surveys at the annual event. Last year, the students determined that the festival had a $1.2 million impact on the parish, according to class facilitator Craig Howat.

“The results showed last year, and will likely show again this year, that the Alligator Festival not only helps out the Rotary Club, but really has a positive impact on the parish as well,” Howat said.

Hahnville High School senior Rachel Peres was one of the seven students who distributed and collected surveys at the festival. She said that the form asked questions such as whether or not the person was from the parish, how long they intended to stay in St. Charles, and how much money they planned to spend.

“We collected around 850 surveys and we are going to compile them together so that we can find out the economic impact,” she said. “Most people wanted to help and took the time to answer the questions.”

Students will also contact vendors from the festival to see how their sales were during the four-day event.

“The students take control of this project and it teaches them a lot about how to measure the economy and how to conduct interviews professionally,” Howat said.

Peres agrees.

“I learned a lot about time management, how to conduct a survey and how to interview people that I didn’t know,” she said. “We are going to start analyzing the data and then give a presentation on it to the Rotary Club.”

Howat said the presentation is an important aspect because it not only lets the Rotary Club know about the impact of the Alligator Festival, but allows the students to share something that they created.

“Because this is their project, they have to know the information forwards and backwards,” he said.

The complete presentation should be made in three weeks.
And those results don’t just have interest to the Rotary Club, they also attract the attention of parish Economic Development and Tourism Director Corey Faucheux.

“We know about the good things that the Rotary Club does with the money they earn from the festival, such as providing scholarships and using it for various community programs, but my interest is in the fact that fairs and festivals are usually an economic catalyst for areas like ours,” Faucheux said. “We want to see how the Alligator Festival fiscally impacts the parish, and in addition, we can use the information from the surveys to better market the festival.”

Faucheux said that a couple of the questions dealt with where the person was from and how they heard about the festival in the first place.

“As an example, if the results show that more people are coming in from a certain region than we thought, we could spend more money to market the festival to that area,” he said. “This is just a way to take stock in where the festival is now and  determine what needs to be done to enhance the festival experience for future attendees.”


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