DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The 14th 30A Songwriters Festival kicks off Friday, Jan. 13 running through Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 16. More than 30 locations stretching across northwest Florida will host more than 175 artists.
Co-producers of the event Jennifer Steele and Russell Carter spoke with WKRG News 5 about the impacts the festival has on the area.
“The last economic impact study that was done through our tourism development council showed that the event itself over the three-four days makes a seven million dollar impact,” said Steele.
“That was several years ago and post inflation it’s probably closer to $10 Million,” Carter added.
Big time artists like Meghan Trainor have made a pit stop at the songwriters festival on the way to the charts. Carter said there are around 30 local artist from Northwest Florida in the 2023 event.
“The great thing about this festival is that people come from all over the Southeast and beyond, the midwest, new england, Texas, a few people from the West coast,” said Carter. “So when people get on stage to play for an audience it’s not a local scene at all. They can do a performance and impress people all over the counrtyside and then when they go to Atlanta or go to New York, people have seen them at 30A.”
Steele said the 30A festival is different than other festivals because the staff only bring in artists that write their own lyrics.
“On a personal level they are able to collaborate and network, meet other artists and I think a lot of artists have sometimes built relationships where they are touring with artists they met at the festival,” said Steele.
Carter said the festival was started 14 years ago at a time when the community had a slow season.
“The month of January was as dead as dead can be in this area. Most of the restaurants and bars closed for the month or for several weeks in the month because they needed time off after the holidays and before the spring break hits. It was called th shoulder season and nothing was gong on,” said Carter. “But now, it’s happening as we speak, people are coming into town and this is going to be as crowded as the fourth of july for th next four days.”
“The one thing that is really special about this festival is it really does incorporate every community,” said Steele. “The neighborhoods themselves thrive and the people that live in that community feel that benefit but it’s also this connector that really doesn’t exist at any other event.”
What’s new for 2023?
Steele said the show is set for good weather this year and will be back to the way it was pre-pandemic.
Food trucks are the big new thing for more variety around the mainstage.
The festival hosted by the Cultural Arts Alliance is also a fundraiser for the organization.
“That’s the real focus because all of those funds are going back into the CAA in helping us support local art and provide grants and scholarships,” said Steele.
Most VIP packages and event are sold out. Tickets to the mainstage performances are still available online.