By Matthew Goodman | firstname.lastname@example.org
The two-day concert event, on Sept. 13 and 14, will not be the biggest crowd St. Augustine has ever seen — that belongs to St. Augustine’s Fourth of July celebration. But St. Augustine Director of Public Affairs Paul Williamson said the concert poses different logistical concerns for the city.
“The city hosts approximately 65,000 people downtown (on the Fourth of July), but there are many others who are in outlying areas and in neighborhoods,” he said. “While this audience is not the most people ever hosted, it will be different in that it is two days long.”
The concert will take place at Francis Field, which annually hosts the Rhythm and Ribs festival and has featured Snoop Dogg. But St. Augustine has had to make a number of adjustments to the site for this event, including closing surrounding streets and limiting vehicle traffic to area neighborhoods. (For more information, http://staugustine-450.com/gotr)
Williamson anticipates that many of the concertgoers will be exploring St. Augustine as tourists, meaning local businesses should see plenty of opportunities for increased revenue because of the concert.
“Additionally, there are unique opportunities to reach out to these visitors because they are here for an extended period of time, not just one day,” he said.
Chris Way, owner of Barnacle Bill’s on Castillo Drive — directly across the street from the concert — has been preparing for the event for two months. The restaurant has prepared separate kiosks for fried shrimp and drink vending around the area.
Way admits the street closures will be “logistically tricky,” but that the restaurant will be “compensated by the mass of humanity.”
He anticipates feeding 6,000 to 8,000 people during the event.
While Way says his restaurant is in the best location it could be in, he is not sure he would venture into the concert area if not for business. He says he avoids the crowds on the Fourth of July, and if he lived in the downtown area, “it might be time for a vacation.”
While he is excited about the prospect of good business, he says he won’t know how it all turns out “until the dust settles.”
Flagler College junior Hailey Fletcher is excited about living so close to the concert.
“It is definitely convenient to be able to easily walk over to Francis Field and not have to worry about finding parking,” she said.
In order to avoid the potentially gridlocked roads, Fletcher is making sure she doesn’t need to drive anywhere this weekend.