Economic Impact

View the full Economic Impact Report here

Highlights of the report…….

What does Valdese Lakeside Park bring to Valdese in visitor and resident spending? Does the park save residents money? Do visitors really stop in town to eat?

These are the questions Friends of the Valdese Rec set out to answer. The economic impact of parks and trails can sometimes be understated. Thanks to FVR board member Zakk Heile, the value Valdese Lakeside Park brings to Valdese can be shown in numbers.

The Economic Impact Study looked at these areas

  1. Spending in Valdese solely due to a park visit (broken out into gas, food/drink, shopping)
  2. Tax Revenue for Town of Valdese (Property and Sales)
  3. Resident Savings (Health or Transportation Costs)

How did Zakk get the results?

The first step was to gather park visitation numbers. This was done over several months with nine strategically placed trail cameras. The result? 136,974 visitors per year.

Next, FVR conducted two surveys asking the same questions. One survey was online and one was done in person at the park. People were asked where they were from (results were tallied as Valdese, Other Burke County town, Out of Burke County) and how often they visited the park. From there, the question was “based solely on a park visit,” how often does the park visitor 1 – get gas, 2 – eat/drink and 3 – shop in Valdese.

Next came the data analysis.  

The report goes into all the details, but the bottom line is Valdese Lakeside Park brings in over 135,000 visitors per year. The surveys showed that visitors come in almost equal thirds from the three geographical areas – Valdese (32.7%), other places in Burke County (34.0%) or outside of Burke County (33.3%) – about 45,000 visitors from each.

It made sense to see how the three regional area visitors spend differently. For example, all “out of Burke County” visitors were combined to see how often they got gas (%22.5%), how often they got food (18.1%), how often they shopped (7.8%). The same for the other two geographical areas.

Knowing how often visitors spend, an amount needed to be calculated. A meal these days averages $13. Some days it may be fast food, some days a sit down restaurant – but on average a person spends $13 on food. $17 was assigned to a person’s gas purchase as it is about $42.50 to fill up your gas tank and cars coming to the park include 2.5 people on average. Spending in Valdese will be at one of the unique shops in downtown, Dollar General, Auto Zone, Food Lion, ABC store, and the like. Most people surveyed were not on full blown shopping trips, but picked up a few items to equal about $21.

Knowing an Out of Burke County visitor spends 22.5% on food (.225 x $13.00) plus 18.1% on gas (.181 x $17.00) and 7.8% on shopping (.078 x $21.00) due to a park visitor; and that they are 32.3% of all park visitors – it is calculated they spend $6.75 per person per park visit. Thus, $6.75 times 45,612 visitors = $307,883 is spent in Valdese by Out of County visitors.

Doing this calculation for each geographic area, yields $882,300 in spending in Valdese each year due to the park.

For the details on $22,ooo Tax Revenue (sales tax and property tax) and the $330,000 in Resident Savings (on healthcare or transportation), see the full report. Once, those three are numbers are added together (spending, tax revenue, resident savings), the annual economic impact of the park is over $1.24M

Donors, grantors and investors can be pleased to know their contributions to Valdese Lakeside Park are more than just about about recreation and quality of life for visitors; they are also about the significant economic benefits for Valdese businesses and residents. What a return on investment!

Speaking of ROI, the report includes this information per existing amenity and for future plans. See it here

Valdese Greenway Complete

Friends of the Valdese Rec (FVR) held an NC Year of the Trail grand opening group walk on Sunday, April 16 to celebrate the completion of the Valdese Greenway. The entire 2-mile greenway is now crushed cinder for an easier walk along Lake Rhodhiss and McGalliard Creek. In 2021, one mile of the former grassy sewer easement was upgraded while the other mile remained grass. In 2022, with the McGalliard Creek Suspension Bridge installation it became obvious upgrading the entire path was the next amenity most desired by park attendees. Friends of the Valdese Rec raised the $250K needed for improvement with donations from the Rostan Family Foundation, NC State Grant assisted by Rep Hugh Blackwell, Dianne Searcy and many individual and small business donors.

Continue reading “Valdese Greenway Complete”

Story Book Trail Ribbon Cutting

Just in time for Read Across America Day, and to celebrate NC Year of the Trail, Friends of the Valdese Rec held the ribbon cutting for their new Story Book Trail at Valdese Lakeside Park. The home school community was invited to take part in the celebration that included walking the new trail that showcased the Dr. Suess book The Lorax, and crafts and refreshments with The Lorax theme. The Story Book Trail is made up of 16 pedestals that hold pages of a book giving visitors the chance to read and be out in nature. The pedestals were made possible with a $3840.00 grant from the Community Foundation of Burke County, a $1,000.00 donation from the Pilot Club of Valdese, $1,000.00 from FVR including 10 volunteers working 4 days to install the pedestals. In addition, FVR will purchase and update the book each month. To experience the trail, visit Valdese Lakeside Park at 1149 Lake Rhodhiss Dr, Valdese. Once there, take the Greenway to the Meditation Point Trail that is just past the Dog Park.

Continue reading “Story Book Trail Ribbon Cutting”

VLP Survey Results

From Jan 30 to Feb 27, 2023, FVR collected information via a Google Survey form about Valdese Lakeside Park. The link was provided on our web site, on Facebook and at our events. We had 82 responses from the following areas: 39 Valdese, 8 Morganton, 8 Connelly Springs, 6 Rutherford College area, 5 Granite Falls, 3 Hickory and one each from Drexel, Old Fort, Vale, Banner Elk, China Grove, Concord.

Thanks to everyone who participated that will help understand how the park is being used and what is needed. Here are the results:

Continue reading “VLP Survey Results”

Discover Valdese Suspension Bridge

160 Foot Suspension Bridge along 2 mile Valdese Greenway

Sunday, March 12 at 2pm

As a part of Discover Burke Trails Day and NC Year of the Trail, Friends of the Valdese Rec will host a group hike along the easy, mostly flat 2 mile greenway. Sunday, March 12 at 2pm, starting at Valdese Lakeside Park (1149 Lake Rhodhiss Dr, Valdese), the group will walk along Lake Rhodhiss with amazing views of the lake and Table Rock, changing to McGalliard Creek Cove views until reaching the 160 foot Suspension Bridge at 1.3 miles.

McGalliard Falls

After experiencing the bridge, hikers can turn back (for a total of 2.6 miles) or continue on to McGalliard Falls Park to see the 200 foot wide, 40 foot tall water fall (2 miles from Valdese Lakeside Park – and return trip will put you at 4 miles).

Dogs on a leash are welcome on the hike.

Valdese Lakeside Park has restrooms, picnic tables, dog park, Story Book Trail, and almost 11 miles of hiking/biking. There is also plenty to do in Downtown Valdese.

Lakeside Park Survey

We need your help – to plan a better park! Please complete this quick survey…. mostly check boxes!

Form Link at

We have general park counts – 200 on weekdays and 400 on weekend – but knowing more will make a better park – like how long do you stay at the park, what brings you there, what else would you like.

New Year’s Resolution Trail Runs

Usually, we have our New Year’s Resolution Runs on New Year’s Day. However, January 1, 2023 fell on a Sunday. So, we gave Saturday, December 31, 2022 a chance and it was the biggest race yet!! Even in the rain. It was a great way to kick off NC Year of the Trail a day early. Thanks to our race sponsors!

365 Mile Challenge

Challenge yourself in 2023 to get out on a Valdese Trail!! #FVR365
(Registration Closed)

Walk. Run. Hike. 365 Miles in 365 Days.

  • $10 Registration
  • Long Sleeve t-shirt at beginning
  • Prizes for completing 365 miles
  • Everyone will be able to see your progress
  • Get miles in Valdese (parks, streets, treadmill) – as much as possible
  • January 1 – December 31, 2023