Visit Sacramento COO Mike Testa to Speak at South by Southwest

Sacramento is making a name for itself when it comes to bringing outside events to the region, and as a result, Visit Sacramento Chief Operating Officer Mike Testa will speak on a panel about the organization’s strategy at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin today. The panel, called “How to Sell Your Event to a City,” will highlight how Testa and Visit Sacramento continue to successfully collaborate with event producers to attract major shows to the area.

Austin is known as Music City, with a focus on being the live music capital of the world, and Testa has led similar efforts to brand Sacramento as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. He oversees Visit Sacramento’s production of large-scale events, while simultaneously working with other event producers to bring outside events to the region. The goal of these events is to establish economic drivers that generate hotel room nights from outside visitors, and create fun and exciting experiences that both tourists and residents can enjoy.

“As we position Sacramento to be nationally and internationally recognized as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, large-scale events are an integral part of the strategy,” Testa said. “These events shine a spotlight on our city to people who are not familiar with it and show them what everyone who lives here has always known – that Sacramento is a unique place with a lot to offer, and we hope that incites them to come and visit.”

Since being named America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital in 2012, Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Festival has steadily grown, attracting more than 30,000 people in its first year and more than 50,000 in 2016. Bringing musical acts such as The Wallflowers to the festival adds an entertainment dimension to it that complements the chef presentations, food vendors, educational opportunities and beer and wine pavilions.

Another speaker on the panel at SXSW will be Dany Hayes, who brings the Aftershock music festival to the region every year. That festival attracts more than 25,000 people from outside the Sacramento region, and Testa said that in working with Hayes to keep the festival going strong, it helps introduce a diverse group of people to the city and gives them a glimpse at the building wave of excitement surrounding recent developments such as the opening of the Golden 1 Center, home to the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento Kings, and a burgeoning food and drink scene that rivals the quality of America’s most famous foodie destinations.

Speaking on the panel at the conference, Testa said, is an opportunity to further establish Sacramento as a national leader when it comes to hosting community-focused events. SXSW, more than perhaps any other conference in the country, has an aura about it that is something special, with big-name speakers and a rock-show appeal rarely found in a conference setting. Testa hopes that sharing Sacramento’s story with such a widespread audience will further cement the city’s burgeoning profile as an ideal event location.