I would like to calculate the total number of events within each feature of a polygon using a dbf file and a polygon shapefile.
Is there an easy way to automate this so I can then produce charts per feature area?
If you make the shapefile from your xy data you can use Hawths Tools - Count Points in Polygon: Link to Count Points in Polygons tool description
You can download Hawths Tools for ArcGIS 9.x for free here: Download Hawths Tools
I hope this helps you.