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AUSTIN Barrow Show visitors great for bottom line

By Karen Colbenson

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

An influx of visitors to Austin over the past few days is boosting sales and keeping local businesses busy.

Austin’s 62nd National Barrow Show began Sunday. Every year, the four-day "world series of swine shows," held at the Mower County Fairgrounds, brings participants from all over the county to Austin. This year, more than 400 people participating in the event are booking hotels, eating in the city’s restaurants and visiting local tourist spots, and in turn, they are boosting the local economy.

Beth Altergott, marketing and sales coordinator of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Spam Museum was open Monday especially for the out-of-state visitors.

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"They come and spend a lot of money (in town)," said Altergott. "They are going out, purchasing gas, going out to eat, buying souvenirs."

According to Altergott, out-of-state tourists on average will spend $125 per person each day.

"It’s nice we know we can count on (Barrow Show participants) to be here every single year," said Altergott.

Many of Austin’s hotels, including Holiday Inn and Days Inn, are nearly full. About 75 percent of the rooms at Days Inn are occupied with participants from the Barrow Show. At Holiday Inn, probably 97 of its 121 rooms are occupied by event participants.

"We are full," said Stephanie Gorman, Holiday Inn’s manager. "They are coming from all over. This has been really great for our business, and it’s really good for our city. We are excited to have them here."

Local restaurants also are feeling the benefit.

Josh Diaz, manager of Piggy Blues BBQ, said about 25 percent of its customers each day have been from the Barrow Show.

"There’s a lot of them," said Diaz. "The first day, we saw a lot of them coming in to eat here."

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Piggy Blues also catered the Barrow Show on Monday.

Diaz said the sales increase this time of year is "definitely good for business."

"It’s new money coming to town," said Diaz. "It keeps us busy. We definitely see a boost from it."

weblinks

National Barrow Show http://www.thepigpage.com/national_barrow_show/

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