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Inaugural Carolina BBQ Fest draws 1,000 people to Greensboro

Local business owners said the return of summer events shows people their open for business and brings first timers to their shops.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — First came open streets, a weekly event to help boost business in Greensboro then the Fun Fourth was back in person and now the Carolina Barbecue Festival. 

Not only is downtown Greensboro back to celebrating in person, businesses hope all these events planned for the summer bring back customers after the pandemic. 

Greensboro's first Carolina BBQ Festival sold out and drew in a thousand people from all over the Triad. 

Organizer Damion Lewis said the South Elm Street event was centered around uplifting businesses and music artist. 

"We wanted to give people the opportunity to be heard and seen and the term BBQ is centered around community and not necessarily food but we wanted to also add that aspect to the event," Lewis said.

More than 40 vendors, food trucks, and live performances were at the day long festival.

QL Richardson @ First Annaul Carolina BBQ Festival SILO Greensboro #qlrp #743ZMedia #carolinabbqfest

Posted by QL Richardson on Saturday, July 10, 2021

"We want to help businesses and artist thrive because you know they took a loss with COVID and everything we just want to help re jump start them," Lewis said. 

Robert Howard brought his Smacking Plates Bistro food truck to the festival. 

He opened mid pandemic and is maintaining the business on top of a full time job. 

"With food trucks we go where people are so obviously we need festivals. We need different things to be open now," Howard said. "I'm thankful and others are too that things are open. Festival season is ramping up  its about to get busy and be a lot of money in the food truck industry for sure. " 

A welcome sight for surrounding businesses. 

Festival attendees got to go plates  and strolled along downtown. 

Foot traffic all businesses could use. 

According to economic tracker, as of June the number of small businesses open in North Carolina decreased by 37.2 % compared to January 2020.

A slightly different trend in Greensboro with two businesses closing and eight opening during the pandemic. 

Events like the Carolina fest, July fourth events and others filling the calendar allows business owners like Kathryn Hashemi  to make money. 

"2019 we did about half of what we did this year four fun fourth," Hashemi said. 

Hashemi owns Just be on Elm Street. She said these events draw first timers into her gift shop.

"There's people who have lived in Greensboro all their life but have never come to our store which is really surprising they'll say how long have you been here and we'll say 16 years and they've never stopped in," Hashemi said. "It gives people an opportunity to explore their own city and be a tourist in their own city."