Some local businesses seek legal action against Riverfest


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) –Thousands of people came to downtown Wilmington this weekend for Riverfest. But instead of cashing in, some business owners say the festival hurt their bottom line. They’re also concerned with how the festival went about getting signatures from business owners about the street closure. Some are considering filing suit.

A surveillance video from Momentum Surf and Skate shows what happened when a Riverfest representative came in to the store to get the business to sign off saying they don’t object to closing Front Street during the festival.

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“If somebody’s going to come and ask for a street closure permit, which I’m all for, I’d love to see more business downtown. Just bring the right information and make sure that we’re aware of how it’s going to be,” Hunter Ford, Momentum Surf and Skate owner, said.

Ford is not the only one bothered by how the tents were set up this year. Justin LaNasa says his tattoo shop was also affected, and a dump truck was right in front of his store for some time.

“We don’t have a voice. If we did have a voice or somebody that could step up and say ‘look this ain’t going to happen next year’, I think we’d all feel a little bit better,” LaNasa said.

Now, there’s talk of legal action. Ford, the owner of Top Toad, Diana Pellington, and others, want to file a lawsuit against Riverfest. Pellington says her business was down 60 percent. Ford says he hopes it will also raise awareness for future events.

“It helps bring notice to how street closure permits are supposed to be done and we did suffer a large bit of lost revenue at our expense for their gain,” Ford said.

Riverfest chairman, Laurence Nadeau said, “We tried our best to coordinate with local business owners and appreciate any input that will help us, moving forward.” As for the lawsuit, he refused to comment.

Malissa Talbert with the city of Wilmington said, “This is the first time we are hearing of something like this from this weekend. Specifically in downtown, many business owners are not present in their stores and many live outside Wilmington. A notification sheet was signed.”