Family reunions energize area economy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Family reunions energize area economy

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July 14, 2006

Albany - Family reunions are becoming big business in Albany. Fifteen family reunions are going on this weekend alone, and those are just the ones the Convention and Visitor's Bureau knows about.

Some of the reunions bring more than 200 people to town, and they pump a lot of money into the area economy while they're here.

"The third weekend of July, every year," said Easter Hardy. 

That's when the Byrant's come together for their annual family reunion, and more than 150 people are expected this year.

"Family is an important piece, or should be, to anyone's life. This way you'll know what's going on in your family besides coming to a funeral," said Hardy. 

They've already picked up maps for out of town guests at the Convention and Visitors Bureau. And they've spent hundreds of dollars on food for the three day event.

"We shopped until we dropped," joked Hardy.  

"Every year, there are just growing," said Lisa Riddle, with the Albany Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

Lisa Riddle says family reunions are becoming big money makers for Albany businesses, especially hotels.

"We have 1,000 room nights booked for this weekend, and we created over 2,000 welcome bags," said Riddle. 

The visitor's bureau has helped plan more than 40 reunions this summer, and fifteen are on schedule for this weekend alone.

"Probably the smallest reunion would be 50 people, the largest 300," said Riddle. That's 300 extra folks pumping money into Albany's economy. Now, the visitor's bureau is marketing specifically towards family reunions.

"There are different event planning magazines that we are advertising in. We're marketing to the people who live here to let them know we do have services available for events they want to bring to this town," said Riddle. 

The days of pot luck dinners are over. These family go all out, hosting dances, dinners and parties for weekend long reunions. While they're seeing old family members, the Chamber of Commerce is seeing dollar signs.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau also offers family reunion planning guides and can help you find the best hotel rates.

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