STOCKTON, Calif. — As white tents start dotting the grass and sidewalks of downtown Stockton's Weber Point Events Center again, it's a sign that another weekend of activities is slated to kick off soon in the Port City.
"People are just hungry for things to do," said Wes Rhea, CEO of Visit Stockton. "We're hearing a lot of excitement for this weekend."
This weekend, Visit Stockton, the city's nonprofit visitor's bureau, will host their first-ever Stockton FlavorFest at Weber Point.
The festival is one of more than 40 events scheduled in the city for the month of May, according to ASM Global, an event promoter and host in Stockton.
"We're hearing a lot of buzz about especially this event, but you know, last week it was the Asparagus Festival in town, Cinco De Mayo had a parade and festival," Rhea said. "Even though we're not quite into our busy travel season, with this event this weekend - we also have commencement this weekend at the University of Pacific - our hotels will be very full. Our restaurants will be very busy."
Among the major events in Stockton during the month of May: Multiple college and high school graduations, several Stockton Ports baseball games, Stockton Heat hockey games, two NCAA golf tournaments, two Disc Golf Pro Tour events, the West Coast Conference Baseball Championships, the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival, a "Feast at the Fox", Visit Stockton's FlavorFest, a Stockton Music Jam event, symphony events, and concerts featuring Mexican banda group Marca MP, and rappers YG, Mozzy, Haiti Babii, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, E-40 and Too Short.
The events are slated to be held at a variety of Stockton venues including the Banner Island Ballpark, Bob Hope Theater, San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, San Joaquin Delta College, Spanos Golf Course, Stockton Arena, Swenson Golf Course, University of the Pacific and the Weber Point Events Center.
"This is where tourism actually meets economic development and this is our opportunity to shine," said Connie Cochran, spokesperson for the city of Stockton. "This is where the culinary scene, which is so popular right now, brings and attracts people from throughout the region hopefully, that is the goal. And then they get to experience Stockton and see what we're all about."
With major events scheduled in almost every city council district for the month of May, city officials are hoping that visitors will explore other areas of the city and return to them.
Rhea gave an update to Stockton's City Council in April with data showing growth in key economic indicators such as visitor credit card spending and hotel bookings, which were at or above pre-pandemic levels in the months leading up to May.
"The goal always is that it's not just about that one-time festival, we want them to come back," Cochran said. "Part of this is a lot of the introducing people to the arts that are available here in Stockton and hopefully people will come back and experience our community through some of the new businesses that they get exposed to when they're here for special events."
The anticipated revenue to the city in the month of May is expected to continue the city's pandemic recovery which brought a 14.4% increase in hotel demand between 2020 and when pandemic restrictions began to loosen in 2021.
Hotel revenue also increased in 2021 by $18.5 million compared to 2020's numbers, according to Visit Stockton.
While city officials do not yet know exactly how much money from the dozens of May events will turn into tax dollars boosting Stockton's economy, they say the impact can only be positive.
"It can only be good. I mean, we don't have exact numbers just yet," Cochran said. "But what it does is it reminds people of all the great things that we have to offer, and then they can go back and visit our local businesses."
As Rhea and his team continue to set up for the two-day festival, which kicks off Saturday, he and city officials alike hope the thousands of expected visitors will continue to make their mark on the city throughout the month of May and beyond.
"There's definitely a pent-up demand when it comes to these types of events," Rhea said. "We're just thrilled to welcome people back to Stockton."