Grand American Has Big Financial Impact


By Nick Hausen
By Rachel Duensing

SPARTA -- When The Butcher's Block started serving at the first Grand American ten years ago, owner Mike Smith couldn't imagine the financial benefits his pulled pork and ribeyes would bring. Now it's something he looks forward to every year.

"One year in particular I feel that it literally got us through the year financially," said Smith. "We may not even be open anymore possibly if the Grand wasn't in town."

The grilled onions and brats are what draw customers back. While many come for food, Smith knows some return for the friendships made at past tournaments.

"The first few days of the Grand, we learn who didn't make it through the year and so forth," explained Smith. "There's some couples that stop by before they even park their trailer and come up and say hi to us while we're setting up."

More than ten thousand people will descend on the shooting complex over the ten day tournament, some coming from thousands of miles away. When they're not shooting, they need places to stay and things to eat. Smith is happy to serve his food to customers at the tournament, but he knows the event helps the entire community.

"Motels are booked out for years, and gas stations, and Wal-Mart," said Smith. "It probably doesn't help every business, as for their bottom line, but it does help them eventually; brings revenue to town."

The revenue extends much further than just Sparta and Randolph County by benefiting all of Southern Illinois.

"It's about a 35-mile radius," said World Shooting and Recreational Complex Executive Director Art Ashbrook. "So it goes all the way up into O'Fallon, but it also goes down to Carbondale, it goes down to Marion, Murphysboro, Mt. Vernon."

The Grand American runs through the rest of the week and wraps up on August 16th. Ashbrook estimates the economic impact from the two weeks of tournaments at around ten million dollars.

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