Some merchants say downtown Cape music festival hurt business

Monday, October 4, 2010
Hunter Nobles strums a bass on Main Street in Cape Girardeau while waiting for the rest of the band Tune Squad to catch up for their show at Rude Dog Saturday, October 2, 2010 during the River City Music Festival. (Laura Simon)

By organizer accounts Saturday, this year's River City Music Festival was a success. Thousands of people took in 60 bands at 10 venues in downtown Cape Girardeau on Friday and Saturday. Early estimates showed a doubling of attendance for the festival/fundraiser, which means more money going to scholarship for music programs at area schools and churches.

Volunteer Samantha Simmons said downtown businesses have embraced the festival.

Not everyone sounded so enthusiastic, though. Some Main Street merchants said the festival was loud, intrusive, badly timed, poorly planned and ultimately disastrous to weekend business. Other proprietors who support the event and the traffic it draws said parking was a hassle and communication was limited at best.

"We're fighting hard enough to stay in business. This didn't help," said Beverly Kasten of Back Porch Antiques & Collectibles, at 27 N. Main St.

Kasten said her shop did 10 percent of the business it normally does on Saturday, generally her busiest day of the week. She said the "heavy metal music" was not conducive to her market.

Main Street was blocked off Friday and Saturday, but merchants say they had to put up their own signs to let customers know they could park downtown before 4 p.m.

More problematic, some said, was the festival's timing, which fell on October's First Friday openings. The monthly art event can mean big business for downtown stores, but some merchants said the music festival and the parking restrictions drove the art crowd away.

"If you have all of this loud noise and the beer wagon and stuff, that does not work with First Friday," said Paula Haas, of Somewhere in Time Antiques, at 108 N. Main St. Haas said the festival killed her usually robust weekend sales.

Merchants like Haas and Kasten described the festival and First Friday as two worlds colliding. Kasten watched as festivalgoers browsed in her store holding cups of beer.

"It's not a family atmosphere. They need to have this someplace else," Haas said.

Festival organizers could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday, David Bell was holding a soft opening for his store, Holiday 365 Florists on Main Street. He said parking was a problem for merchants over the weekend, but he does like the volume of people the festival brings downtown.

"They picked the wrong weekend, but everybody's got a weekend," he said.

mkittle@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

27 N. Main St., Cape Girardeau, MO

108 N. Main St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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