MOUNDSVILLE - When it comes to 1,100 people from all over the world flocking to the area to participate in the 18th-annual Mock Prison Riot, local businesses had only one motto: The more the merrier.
With hundreds of people using area hotels, restaurants and stores, officials say the event was a great boost to the local economy. According to Mike Coleman, assistant commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Corrections, the riot's research indicates event participants spent about $140 a day while in the area, which totaled to about $616,000 in revenue for local businesses over the four-day event.
"That's everything from motel rooms, meals and whatever else people might need to buy at local stores and restaurants while they're here," Coleman said. "The folks we've done business with are happy."
MONEY MADE — Officials estimated participants of the 18th-annual Mock Prison Riot spent an average of $140 a day on local businesses during their stay. -- Sarah Harmon
Coleman said organizers of the riot also spent money on service contracts in the area such as tents, catering and other supplies to help run the event.
"We often go to various stores to buy things that come up during the event," Coleman said. "Sometimes, something breaks and you have to replace it. I'm sure they were happy to have money being spent in their stores."
Coleman said participants stayed in most of the major hotels in Moundsville, Wheeling and St. Clairsville, including Wilson Lodge at Oglebay Park Resort and Conference Center and new hotels at the Highlands. The new Sleep Inn & Suites in Moundsville also supported the event by offering 80 more rooms for participants and staff to stay this year.
Grand Vue Park Director Craig White said seven out of the park's eight cabins were booked with Mock Riot groups this year, including groups that have come from as far as Ontario. Each cabin holds about 10 people, which is more cost effective than getting separate hotel rooms and helps build camaraderie, White said.
Some groups also used some of the park's shelters for workshops that require open spaces, something groups have been doing for the last couple of years. White said although park patrons might hear some of the groups, their stations are set up so they won't affect anyone else in the park.
"It does help the park without a doubt," White said. "We appreciate the business. The guys are really good. They leave it clean and they're a nice group of people to have up here."