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Photo: Wilmington business owner says RiverFest hurt weekend revenue. (Source: WWAY)

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.


Comment on this Story

  • duh

    He could of purchased a booth. Nobody was selling beach gear, if hes aware that traffic slows down in shop then he should adapt. The restuarants, the vendors, the attendees all were pleased

    • Darrell Parks

      Why spend the extra money purchasing a booth when you have a brick and mortar store right there? He already pays taxes to the city? Now he should pay to rent a part of the street? Lexington, NC had the same issues with the BBQ Festival. Started with booths ON THE SIDEWALK, effectively blocking store entrances. now the booth are in the street, leaving the sidewalks and sight lines open for the businesses that have to stay open and survive year round.

      • duh

        Why buy a billboard?why pay someone to hold a sign? Why don’t i get preferential treatment where the cities entire population revolves around my business and its needz? I payz taxes. Entitled surf hippy.

  • Jeff

    Since this isn’t your first Riverfest being in business, what was the impact last year?

  • duh

    Lol this story is crap. Some entitled surf hippie somehow believes hundreds of people coming downtown lost him business…i was there, no vendors were selling surfboards

  • Richard William

    A surf shop lost business in October. SHOCKING!!!

    • Carol Dee Bohanon

      Have you ever even been inside Momentum? Clearly not. It’s NOT just a surf shop.

  • mpheadley

    What was the reason for not using the rest of the waterfront? The parking deck? Did they think it would be in the process of being torn down?

  • Jeffrey Benson

    Everyone saw your store. They just chose not to shop there. Quit your whining.

    • Denise Van

      People, Be nice please. We have enough rudeness in the world.

      • Tim

        Not rude telling someone to stop whining.

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