Craig Ranch park event growth expected to continue

San Gennaro Feast organizer Anthony Palmisano said he had a good reason for moving the ever-growing event to ever-busier Craig Ranch Regional Park last year.

“It’s great to be here because the park is so big,” he said.

Palmisano said an employee in North Las Vegas’ parks and recreation department approached him about the move, which worked well given that the festival was attracting more than 50,000 attendees and had outgrown multiple previous locations. The event, which features a petting zoo, a carnival and lots of food, was at the North Las Vegas park last spring and fall and continued May 10-14.

Palmisano said he uses 40-50 acres of the 170-acre park. With the larger space, he said, he was able to accommodate parking and bring in larger rides. Last year also was the first time in 38 years that the event was held on grass, rather than on asphalt in Las Vegas, he said. The city also purchased 5 acres near the park to provide more parking, said Cass Palmer, director of Neighborhood and Leisure Services.

Large community events such as the San Gennaro Feast have boosted visitation at the North Las Vegas park. Craig Ranch Regional Park, which has been open for four years, has gone from fewer than 10 large events per year — such as festivals, and 5K runs — to 40 planned this year, city public-information officer Delen Goldberg said. Events such as the Color Run and National Xball League Las Vegas Open paintball tournament have attracted thousands to the park in the past year.

The addition of a 7-acre amphitheatre two years ago that can seat up to 8,000 allowed for more special events, Palmer said.

Within this fiscal year — July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017 — the park has gained 500,000 unique (non-repeat) visitors, Palmer said.

Branan Allison, the president of Source 1 Events, organized the third annual American Patriot Fest, set to be held at the park May 20. It was set to include a 5K run, a car show and a 370-foot-long replica of the District of Columbia’s Vietnam Memorial Wall. Allison said the festival started with about 2,000 attendees in 2015 and drew 5,000 the following year.

Craig Ranch is “definitely a beautiful park and we have a lot of space to do what we want to do out there, and there’s a lot of parking,” he said. “There’s so much traffic on Craig Road, and it’s easily accessible.”

Rich Strelak, an organizer for the Pirate Fest, said he was looking for a new home after his event outgrew Lorenzi Park.

“The Pirate Fest was being built for Craig Ranch Park,” Strelak said. “There’s room to grow.”

Park activities help offset annual maintenance fees, which are about $2 million at Craig Ranch, Palmer said. The biggest expense at the park is water, but it helps that the city owns its water authority, he said.

No park pays for itself, Palmer said, but typically the goal is to receive at least 40 cents on every dollar spent. He said Craig Ranch is at about 40-50 cents, and officials hope to see that increase.

Allison said he expects the growth to continue.

“The more events that go (on) out there, the better it is for the city and the park, and for us,” he said.

Contact Kailyn Brown at kbrown@viewnews.com or 702-387-5233. Follow @kailynhype on Twitter.

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