Economics students project economic impact of popular, local events 'Boonerang' and 'Blue Ridge Brutal'

Students in Appalachian State University's student chapter of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) and faculty in App State's Department of Economics and Center for Economic Research & Policy Analysis (CERPA) have released economic analyses of two well-attended events held this year in the North Carolina High Country.


International Business major Catie Holder and Economics majors Ethan GrantConnery Martin and Lianna Palko-DiStefano helped measure the impact of Boonerang, a music and arts festival held in downtown Boone, North Carolina, June 15-17, 2023.

With 3,000 individuals attending from out of town, the researchers estimated that the economic impact of the event on the region to be $427,083.

"The average total spending [of Boonerage attendees] was $142.36. The top two categories for expenditures were accommodation and restaurants/bars."

The students worked with CERPA Director Ash Morgan on the study.

Blue Ridge Brutal

Economics and Physics major Sitara Brent, along with Grant and Palko-DiStefano, helped measure the impact of the Blue Ridge Brutal, a long distance road bike ride that travels through some of the most beautiful scenery in North Carolina. The start and finish point is the Ashe Civic Center in West Jefferson, North Carolina, and there are 100, 75, 50 and 25-mile ride options.

They estimated the economic impact of the event on the region to be $255,781.

Lodging, once again, had a major impact on the region. 

"Fifty-five percent of the respondents... stayed overnight. Of these, 33% stayed one night, 47% stayed two nights and 20% stayed more  than two nights."

The students worked with Dr. John Whitehead, a professor in the Department of Economics, on the study.

Read the Economic Impact Studies

2023 Economic Impact

Catie Holder, Ethan Grant, Connery Martin, Lianna Palko-DiStefano, Ash Morgan

Blue Ridge Brutal
2023 Economic Impact

Sitara Brent, Ethan Grant, Lianna Palko-DiStefano, John Whitehead

RelatedApp State economics students measure the impact of popular regional bike race

About the Center for Economics Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA)

The Center for Economics Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA) at Appalachian State University enables decision-makers to implement policies that better achieve targeted outcomes by producing research and disseminating information on current economic and policy issues. Housed in the Walker College of Business Department of Economics, CERPA maintains the Appalachian Experimental Economics Laboratory (AppEEL) as part of the experimental economics program and encourages faculty and student student research. For more information, visit

About the Department of Economics at Appalachian State University

The Department of Economics in Appalachian State University's Walker College of Business is an intellectually vibrant place for students and faculty. As a research-intensive department committed to student learning, the department offers a wide range of courses that provide critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, complemented by student-faculty research collaboration. Our faculty members are engaged in research that contributes locally and globally in areas related to energy, environmental, development, trade, health, sports and tourism. The Department of Economics is ranked among the leading U.S. economics departments for research productivity, and is particularly strong in environmental and experimental economics. Learn more at

About the Walker College of Business

The Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University delivers transformational educational experiences that prepare and inspire students to be ethical, innovative and engaged business leaders who positively impact our community, both locally and globally. The college places emphasis on international experiences, sustainable business practices, entrepreneurial programs and real-world applications with industry. Enrolling 3,986 undergraduates in 10 majors, as well as 235 graduate students in three master's programs, the Walker College's full time undergraduate enrollment is the highest in the UNC System. Learn more at

Boonerang, Blue Ridge Brutal logos
Published: Nov 28, 2023 12:34pm