SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – WaterFire Sharon is sticking around for another season.
The fourth season in Sharon kicks off July 16, with two other events planned this year: on August 20 and September 24.
Downtown business owners said they are thrilled the show is sticking around, calling it a major business boost.
Donna’s Diner, which is front and center at the WaterFire event, normally serves up to 170 people. During the first WaterFire event, it served 700 people.
Buhl Mansion and the Tara – A Country Inn also see a spike in overnight guests.
“Now it’s people coming and booking months in advance to come specifically for WaterFire,” said Laura Ackley, with Winner Hospitality.
WaterFire Sharon was introduced during the summer of 2013, with more than 50 braziers placed in the Shenango River. WaterFire Sharon includes a full day of arts and music, with evening activities commencing with a ceremonial lighting of the braziers, which remain burning through midnight.
Last year’s events drew approximately 60,000 visitors into downtown Sharon, according to WaterFire’s Board Chairman Karen Winner Sed.
“In addition to the exposure to such a world class artistic event, there has been economic impact far beyond Sharon,” she said. “We’re hearing stories of increased business done in shopping, restaurants and hotels during WaterFire weekends throughout the region for the past three years. We know that there is a positive residual effect as well.”
Michael Nelson, executive director of WaterFire Sharon, said the annual event also brings in tourists from other states, and even other countries.
“Bus lines call us and say, ‘OK, what’s your schedule? We need to put that on our brochures, because we’ve had people from Canada.’ We have some loyal WaterFire visitors from Canada that come every year,” he said.
Plans are underway for this year’s entertainment. More information about WaterFire Sharon can be found at www.waterfiresharonpa.org.