Little Rock businesses torn on Riverfest coming to an end

Businesses torn on Riverfest coming to an end

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - If you walk around and ask business owners in the River Market how the feel about Riverfest coming to an end, you'll probably get a mixed response.

At its height, the festival had an estimated annual economic footprint of $33 million on the city, but businesses outside the festival gates say they have struggled the past 2 years.

After 40 years on the banks of the Arkansas River, the state's largest music festival has run dry.

"Festivals like that are good for the city, they bring in big acts, they bring in recognition for the city amongst all of those people," said Wes Howerton with Damgoode Pies. "People from all over the state come here, they see River Market and how its changed. I think it's a loss."

Howerton said the pizza and brewery benefited greatly from the festival crowds. Damgoode opened a new location in the River Market in 2015.

"We have repeat customers every year that want to come enjoy Riverfest from up here out of the crowds. [It's] sad to lose that," Howerton said.

The pizza company's outdoor patio would be sold out about two months before the festival. That increase in customers would also boosts sales that weekend by 20-30 percent.

But Zack Rigali, a manager at Big Whiskey's, said business from the festival hasn't been great the past two years.

"With taking off of Memorial Day weekend and splitting up between Riverfest and Springfest it took down the business that we had," Rigali said.

The family event Springfest that was an offshoot of Riverfest has also been suspended.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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