In just a few short months, downtown Fayetteville will once again experience the sights and sounds of the annual Slawburger Festival. Soon to be in its fifth year, the popular Slawburger Festival seems to be gaining momentum, drawing bigger crowds each time.

“Five years ago, we could not have imagined the success of the festival,” said Catherine Bartlett, president of Fayetteville Main Street (FMS). “We created it as a means to bring more people to the downtown area and provide a fun day, while also procuring additional funds to aid in the revitalization efforts of Fayetteville’s Main Street district.”

The Fayetteville Main Street organization has been a presence since 1990 and works diligently with downtown merchants and building owners to maintain the vibrancy and appeal to consumers. To the many that remain unaware, monetary proceeds from past Slawburger festivals have afforded Fayetteville Main Street the opportunity to give back to local merchants in a big way.

Many of the buildings, especially those closest to the courthouse, date back a hundred or more years and the upkeep isn’t cheap. After evaluating the crucial need for building repairs, former Main Street executive director Carol Foster and the organization’s board of directors created a Façade Grant allocating $25,000. Business and/or building owners matched 50 percent of the funds, which resulted in a $50,000 improvement investment in downtown Fayetteville.

Several of the downtown buildings received much needed facelifts and renovations. Some of the changes are small, while others are handsomely visible like Norman’s Furniture. Other businesses/buildings that benefited from the grant include Beautiful Me Boutique, The Carter Collection, Carter’s Drug Store, Gloria Stultz Photography, The KP Building, The Local Café, Sissy’s Antiques, and the McKenzie Law Firm.

Executive board members say they are hopeful this year’s Slawburger Festival will produce even more revenue, as they have plans to continue providing substantial grants to downtown merchants and business owners. Josh Richardson, vice president of FMS, tells us the goal is to entice people, both locally and from out-of-town, to come back to Fayetteville to shop, eat and enjoy the surroundings.

“You can have downtown festivals all day, but if your downtown area isn’t attractive, it’s likely the people won’t come back,” said Richardson. “Our goal to make people fall in love with downtown Fayetteville the same way we all have.”

Each year, Fayetteville Main Street proudly partners with other local organizations to host the Slawburger Festival, including the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Carolyn Denton, executive director of the Chamber, has also been a guiding force since the festival’s inception.

“The Fayetteville-Lincoln County Chamber and Tourism Bureau is happy to partner with Fayetteville Main Street with the festival,” Denton said. “It’s exciting to draw folks of all ages to our beautiful downtown area.”

Festival goers can expect to find many of the familiar activities from years past, including the wildly popular Slawburger Eating Contest, sponsored by Honey’s Restaurant. “We’re still tweaking a few things, including the line-up,” says Jeff Wilcox, FMS treasurer. “We want to ensure that year five is top-notch.”

The Slawburger Festival is set for Saturday, April 20th. Organizers encourage the public to mark their calendars and check Facebook for updates over the next few months.

Event organizers also say they are still in need of sponsors. If you or your business would like to be a sponsor, visit their website www.slawburgerfestival.com.

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