St. Augustine businesses are giving mixed reviews following last weekend’s Gentlemen of the Road music festival tour stop in the city.
Len Weeks, president of the Historic St. Augustine Area Council of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, said some downtown business owners had told him they lost business, up to 50 percent, when compared with the same weekend last year.
Shops that stayed open from 10 p.m. to around 1 a.m following the concert performances, mostly bars, restaurants, and other eateries, did much better business than usual.
“The shop owners, by and large, have felt like there was so much emphasis put on the concert that we basically cordoned off most of our downtown area from the regular visitors,” Weeks said.
According to Weeks, many people who may have come downtown for the weekend despite the concert were likely turned away for the weekend following reported concerns of large crowds and a potential lack of parking.
There were electronic billboards put up on area highways for days before the festival warning that parking would not be available, which Weeks said was not the case.
“We need to balance a little bit better the influx of people that get into town by shuttle service and leave the town open for regular visitors who would be here on that weekend anyway,” he said.
“St. Augustine has 15-30,000 visitors here every weekend day. So, we’re kind of used to having large crowds, but not such large crowds for one event, and I think that we just need to be able to balance it.”
Despite the mixed reviews from businesses, Weeks said the city and concert organizers handled the event “superbly” and that he thinks the city should host more large scale entertainment events.
The event was the last stop on the summer tour, which was curated by Grammy winning folk-rock group Mumford & Sons.