SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The population of Sheldon, Iowa, should triple in size this weekend as the annual Christian music festival RiseFest returns.

The city’s population is about 5,500. RiseFest is expected to draw at least 15,000 music fans with the possibility of 19,000 to 20,000, said Curt Strouth, the community development director for Sheldon Chamber and Development Corporation.

RiseFest is organized by RISE Ministries and Rob Roozeboom.

Strouth said the economic impact from the large event is felt in Sheldon and the surrounding area.

“The metrics we have to be able analyze this on an annual basis is both our local option sales tax and then our hotel and motel tax revenue, which since the inception of RiseFest, we continue to break records both with local option sales tax and hotel/motel tax,” Strouth said.

“While this is only one weekend event, it brings in 15,000 to 20,000 people per year. Hotels are full and obviously with all the purchasing of the food, fuel and lodging, those continue to rise,” Strouth said. “There is certainly that direct impact from this one big weekend that we can see on the city level.”

The city’s local sales tax is 1% and it has a 7% tax on motel and hotel use, which is allowed through Iowa law.

“It all gets re-invested within Sheldon,” Strouth said.

A scene from the 2018 RiseFest in Sheldon, Iowa. Photo courtesy of Brandi Fuerstenberg.

RiseFest has a direct impact on city taxes but the thousands of visitors also impact local businesses.

“We will see a lot of traffic tonight and early tomorrow morning for it,” said Dane Larsen, the general manager of the Hy-Vee in Sheldon. “There will be people in the store getting supplies; getting ice.”

The shoppers include RiseFest fans but also vendors on the festival grounds who need supplies, Larsen said.

Hy-Vee also has a partnership with RiseFest to supply some food and other items for the festival, Larsen said.

“Honestly, this is a really good thing for our community,” Larsen said. “We’re not the only (business) to benefit from it.”

The Downtown Grounds coffee shop will be on the festival grounds this weekend, said owner Mark Trego.

“We are actually shutting down our downtown store,” Trego said. “We’ve been interested in getting our name out more in the community.”

A festival with thousands of people is a good way to reach more people, Trego said.

“It’s huge,” he said. “That many people in one place…”

Although fans will be in Sheldon during the two-day festival, they won’t all be able to stay in the city. That means fans will stay in motels and campgrounds throughout northwest Iowa.

The RiseFest website lists motels and campgrounds in four other cities outside of Sheldon.

“We are booked Friday and Saturday,” said Bob McKean of the AmericInn Hotel in Sibley, which is about 20 minutes north of Sheldon. “They started calling six months ago.”

But some fans made their reservations earlier. “We had a few last year make reservations for this year,” McKean said.

While the campgrounds in Sioux County, just west of Sheldon, don’t see a big influx of RiseFest fans, “We do see reservations at one park,” said Jessica VanOort, an office assistant for the Sioux County Conservation Board.

“A lot of our parks are 45 minutes to an hour away,” VanOort said.

“They certainly see a trickle down effect,” Strouth said of neighboring communities. “Those people that are staying there are also spending money in those communities as well.”

A scene from RiseFest in 2021 that shows the Harvest Stage. Photo courtesy of Brandi Fuerstenberg

Fans will travel a distance to get to Iowa, Strouth said. Fans have come from Arkansas, Washington and other states for the event, he said.

RiseFest has grown into a top-notch national event, Strouth said.

“It continues to grow each year,” Strouth said.

The community understands the benefits of having the Christian music festival and the importance of partnering with the organizers, Strouth said.

Several years ago, the community development corporation made a commitment to encourage RiseFest to stay in Sheldon, Strouth said. The RiseFest location is on 70 acres once owned by the community development corporation.

“We worked with Rob and his team and some local businesses to be able to sell that ground to them so that had a permanent location. That was important to us and was important to Rob to have that permanent location. We want them to stay here,” Strouth said.

RiseFest has led to increased attention for Sheldon both in people who return each year or for other events in the city, Strouth said. The festival is a tool for recruiting and attracting potential residents and business, Strouth said.

“From a community standpoint, this puts us on the map,” Strouth said.

The city will be getting another motel soon and that can be linked to RiseFest, he said. Also, RiseFest has installed a permanent stage. The city can use that for various events, which has a positive impact on local festivals, Strouth said.