FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – For many downtown business owners, the orange-and-white striped barricades that shutter Main from 2nd to 9th Streets are beautiful things. A crashing load of barricades dropping off the back of a truck is music to their ears.
Signs of downtown shutting down are what business owners see as the framework for a profitable weekend. It means the city is preparing for the annual Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival, which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city’s core.
“It’s almost as good as Christmas,” said Kathryn Jones, who manages the Marie Antoinette Spa and Gift Gallery off of Sundance Square.
And that’s what makes the signs so beautiful to business owners. City leaders estimate the festival brings in $18 million for the local economy.
“We have curb-to-curb people, and even though we are a little bit off Main Street, they do come in here and look around and we really look forward to the festival every year,” Jones said.
“Everybody, and I mean everybody, and their dogs come to this festival,” she added.
According to a 2006 study, the four-day festival is estimated to draw 400,000 visitors downtown. They will spend enough to leave the city with $1.7 million in just state and local taxes.
And, on average, visitors will spend nearly $80 a day each.
“More than that,” said Ken Sorrells, a Southeastern U.S. artist setting up shop for the Fort Worth festival. “Eight-or-$900, probably, by the time I pay for the hotel.”
Which is why the table is set and the signs are hung for a landscape that will from being the standard downtown hustle-and-bustle to a jam-packed district filled with elbow-to-elbow pedestrians.
The arts festival is the largest in Texas and the third largest nationwide. As such, it’s become a cornerstone for business success downtown.
“Yes, it is,” Jones said. “It is always very good for us. We’re always glad to see the festival come to town.”
And that’s why they’re always glad to see those seemingly beautiful blockades.
If you’re planning on attending the festival, find information on traffic and parking here.