WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Riverfest is a popular family fun event that has been going on for over 30 years. The festival offers something for everyone, and gives vendors and local business owners a chance to see more foot traffic.
However, while festivals like Riverfest typically benefit the local economy, one Wilmington business owner says the festival hurt his weekend revenue.
Hunter Ford, owner of Momentum Surf and Skate, says tents prevented people from seeing his store. He feels that Riverfest organizers should have followed the same format as the Azalea Festival, and says he was misled about how the tents would be set up.
“They did not provide a map of where tents would be located, and did not tell my hourly employee that the traffic would be diverted away from the sidewalks to the middle of the street. They did not mention that our buildings and businesses would not be seen or easily accessible because the backs of the tents would be directly in front of our businesses.”
Riverfest President Russ Deats says this was not the intention.
“It’s certainly not our intent to cost anybody any business. We don’t want to do that. It’s our hope that the festival would bring more business up on Front Street since we’ve got part of the footprint up on Front Street this year, and we’ll continue to strive toward doing that.”
Deats was not aware of any other complaints, but Ford says he is not alone.
“A lot of other business owners have reached out to me and said, ‘How are you doing today? Because we’re suffering.'”
Deats said he planned on personally speaking to Ford and any other business owners that had concerns, but this may not be enough. Although no paperwork has been filed yet, Ford says several business plan on filing suit against Riverfest, Inc. for lost revenue.
We will continue to follow this story as new information becomes available.