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Buhl golf course hopes festival will expand

Instead of “Fore!” people visiting Clear Lake Country Club on Saturday afternoon heard music instead.

It isn’t every day that a live band and vendor booths dot the driving range, but that was the scene during the Buhl course’s inaugural August Fest.

“Nationwide, golf course revenue is down about 16 percent and the same is happening here,” said club member Clay Bingham, who helped organize the event with his wife, Jerri Bingham. “We’re exploring ways to help bring revenue up while letting the community know that we aren’t a private club and just for members.”

In fact, the course depends on non-member golfers, who typically account for 40 percent of its annual revenue, said Dave Erickson, who sits on the course’s board of directors.

August Fest is one of several events the club has held over the past few months. As happy as club officials were with the turnout, which continued to grow as the evening temperature dropped, participating vendors were grateful for the opportunity the event provided to them. Organizers charged attendees $10 each but didn’t charge the dozen or so vendors to set up shop.

“We wanted to give vendors that extra incentive ‚ that everything they make is theirs to keep,” said Jerri Bingham.

With the loss of Buhl’s annual Sagebrush Days sidewalk sales and the Buhl Chamber of Commerce declining not host its Trout Festival in September ‚ instead holding a Mexican-inspired dinner, rodeo and fiesta ‚ vendors said Saturday’s event helped recoup some of the lost sales potential.

“I think this does help,” said Mimi Ford, owner of Mimi’s Saddlehorn Events Center in Buhl. “I think this festival has great potential. The location is fabulous and I think it will only grow.”

Ford used August Fest to educate attendees about her recent partnership with Vicki Patterson, Hagerman chef and owner of the River Boat Restaurant.

Patterson recently wrapped up a two-year national tour touting her cookbook and looks forward to the partnership with Ford.

“We’re basically feeling the waters right now. Mimi is so artistic and everything she does is so beautifully done,” Patterson said. “This event helps us spread the word.”

Renee Wilkins of Buhl attended with two co-workers. They said attendance would probably be better if there weren’t as many events going head-to head with Joe Mama’s Car Show in Jerome.

“Buhl definitely needs an event like this,” Wilkins said.

However, her friend and co-worker Linda Stowe said she wouldn’t stay long because she planned to attend a fundraising dinner at the West End Senior Citizen’s Center later Saturday night.

“Bad timing,” Stowe said. “Other than that, I think this is great.”

Blair Koch may be reached at blairkoch@gmail.com or 316-2607.

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