The 2008 Dublin Irish Festival generated a profit of $200,000, the largest yet for the annual event.

The 2008 Dublin Irish Festival generated a profit of $200,000, the largest yet for the annual event.

The festival cost about $1.3-million, with revenue totaling about $1.5-million, said Sandra Puskarcik, director of community relations.

About 73 percent of the revenue came from admissions and beverage sales.

"What we realized with the festival, and maybe because it's 20 years old, but it's a known entity and people are looking to it for marketing capabilities," Puskarcik said.

The festival is funded by revenue generated from the city's hotel/motel tax fund. The revenue dollars return to the fund, which helps support community organizations and events.

"This is not really the model we have in place for city-sponsored events," Puskarcik said. "But this one we took a look at because there is opportunity to make money here."

Not only does the event make money, but it also gives some away.

The festival continued to help dozens of community and Irish cultural groups this year, bringing in more than $97,000 through fundraising opportunities, Puskarcik said.

"The reason our festival is as authentic as it is, is because of these cultural organizations," she said. "It's great that we can support help them."

The Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau reported a total of 1,781 room nights at Dublin hotels during the event, which attracted more than 92,000 people. Sunday attendance was up 10 percent, a total of 22,380 people.

Festival guests stayed an average of 9.6 hours, according to a survey conducted at the festival by the city. About 18 percent of people attended all three days, and 10 percent came from outside Ohio.

The survey revealed that about 49 percent of festival guests were between 30 and 50 years old, 25 percent were between 50 and 65, and 14 percent were in their 20s.

Being more environmentally conscious at the festival proved to be successful, Puskarcik said. In addition to the bike valet, the city added more recycling bins and nearly seven tons of material was recycled, about a quarter of the total waste at the event.

The city sold more than 5,000 of its plastic souvenir cups. At three drinks per cup, the city estimates it diverted 15,000 cups from going to the landfill.

Now, the city is turning its attention to the 2009 festival. Goals already have been identified, including topping the 100,000 mark in attendance.

"The grounds are set up to allow for more people on Friday night and Sunday," Puskarcik said. "Saturday we're at our max."

The city and festival board members are working at developing promotions to attract more people on Friday and Sunday, including an initiative geared toward local businesses.

"We want to make sure the people who work in Dublin come to the festival before going home on Friday, so we're offering a different lineup on the Celtic rock stage," Puskarcik said. "We realize our corporate citizens may not be in for hours of traditional Irish music, so we've made it more mainstream Irish."

Already committed to the lineup are Brigids Cross, Gaelic Strom and the Prodigals, none of which traditionally play on Friday or play Celtic rock, Puskarcik said.

Other goals include increasing the number of overnight stays in Dublin hotels by 5 percent, engaging younger leadership in making the festival successful and increasing the use of social media as communication and marketing tools.

More information is available at www.dublinirishfestival.org.

bdunlap@thisweeknews.com