Tom Hammett and Daniel Grizzard

Tom Hammett and Daniel Grizzard
Tom Hammett and Daniel Grizzard

SBIO is proud to announce that the key findings from graduate student Daniel Grizzard’s research project, conducted under the direction of SBIO faculty member, Dr. Tom Hammett, will be released this week as the Economic Impact Report for the Highland County Maple Festival.

Daniel Grizzard is a graduate student in the department of Sustainable Biomaterials pursuing a Master's degree with Dr. Tom Hammett as his advisor. His research is focused on using maple syrup-based agritourism as a tool for sustainable development in Appalachian communities. As part of this research, Grizzard led an economic impact analysis of the Highland County Maple Festival in March of 2022.

He worked to survey the visitors to this festival in order to estimate how much money these visitors spent, and he also worked with VDOT to create an attendance estimate for the event. The report estimates that the festival generated between $1.36 and $2.02 million in Highland County. This research also found that the festival is a great tool for educating visitors about maple syrup and leads to visitors being more likely to purchase maple syrup in the future.

This research’s key findings were that about 26,500 visitors attended in 2022. Each visitor spent between $73.18 and $105.76 on average. Visitors on average traveled 98 miles to attend the festival. Eighty-five percent (85%) were from Virginia, although visitors from 14 states attended.  Over 70% of visitors were repeat festival attendees, and returning visitors had on average attended the festival 13 times. Over 90% of visitors said they are planning to attend the festival again.  And, 73% of visitors were interested in visiting the area during another season.

Grizzard’s report finishes with: “The educational, cultural, and economic value of this event makes it a vital part of the maple-syrup industry in Western Virginia.  The festival serves as a way to foster new interest in maple syrup production and using forests in responsible ways that help people while still protecting the land.  The Highland County Maple Festival showcases the value of agritourism as a way to create new long-term customers for farmers, as an educational experience for visitors, and as an economic boost for the surrounding community.”

Read the key findings of his research on this flyer:  Key findings

Read the full press release from the Highland Co Chamber of Commerce:  Press release

Learn more about the Highland Co Maple Festival:

To read about all their findings in the full research paper, please contact Daniel Grizzard at or Dr. Tom Hammett at to request more info!