For Southport visitors, the weekend will be all about flags, fireworks, and fun. For business owners, the first week in July is all about the economic boom. “It really is a signature event for Southport, and this entire southeastern North Carolina region,” said festival co-chair Don Parker. Talk about a birthday party. Even with a tighter budget, the North Carolina Fourth of July Festival will be quite the extravaganza. This year the festival committee budgeted hundreds of thousands of dollars for the event, including almost $20,000 for a fireworks display. “I don't think that anybody who attends the event this week will necessarily see any impact with regard to the budget that we've put forward for this event,” Parker added. There will definitely be no shortage of flags or people. The four-day celebration usually attracts 40,000 to 50,000 visitors to the city. “We came over just to check out Southport and to see all the decorations and tour the town,” said Donna Moricle. “Regardless of the number of folks that participate this year, everyone of them will be guaranteed a good time,” said festival co-chair Don Parker. With so many people expected for the 4th of July Festival, business owners are hoping the crowds will set off an economic firework display in Southport. “Everybody’s going to buy gas, everybody’s going to pay taxes, everybody’s going to leave their money here, so it's a huge hit for the economy. It's a good thing,” said business owner Jeff Ward. “Fellow business owner Ricky Evans said, “Oh it's great, not only is it a lot of fun, it's good for business also.” With so many people already driving into town for the holiday weekend, business owners are optimistic about the crowds still to come. “The feel that I have in the last few days, it feels like bigger than ever,” Evans said. Which will be good for business now...and in the future. “Everybody that comes in during the 4th that likes it, they'll tell somebody else somewhere else, and that means that somebody else will come,” Ward said.
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