Monday, 06 May 2019 19:44

Chamber encourages Richmond County businesses to welcome Epicenter visitors

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Rockingham Dragway is transforming for this weekend's Epicenter Festival as stages and tents are set up. Rockingham Dragway is transforming for this weekend's Epicenter Festival as stages and tents are set up. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — The Richmond County Chamber of Commerce is encouraging local businesses to roll out the proverbial red carpet for visitors in advance of this weekend’s Epicenter Festival.

The Chamber emailed a flyer on Friday asking owners to “light up your business” for Epicenter visitors.

In the “old NASCAR days,” county businesses would put out signs and change their marquees to welcome race fans, according to Chamber President Emily Tucker.

She wants them to do the same “to show some Southern hospitality” to the music fans who will be here for the three-day hard rock and heavy metal music festival at Rockingham Dragway.

The county’s Tourism Development Authority and Economic Development  are working with the Chamber to create the welcome wagon.

Tucker said they want to create a welcoming atmosphere so the “visitors, as well as organizers, will want to come back to Richmond County.”

Epicenter is expected to have a nearly $40 million economic impact on not only Richmond County, but the surrounding region, County Manager Bryan Land said soon after the festival was announced.

Economic Developer Martie Butler said she is aware of hotel packages in Moore, Scotland and Hoke counties.

Epicenter is already starting to have a local impact from the workers who are setting up — and who will break down —  for the festival.

Dragway owner Steve Earwood said in a Chamber video on Friday that crews had already been on site for two weeks.

Fencing around the dragway and Rockingham Speedway and Entertainment Complex started going up last week and both properties were buzzing with activity Monday.

“We’ll have some 2,000 employees, stage hands, to produce the event,” he said.

Both the workers and other visitors will be buying groceries, eating at restaurants and filling up their gas tanks while they’re here, Tucker said.

An estimated 100,000 people are expected to attend the festival, essentially tripling the county’s population for the weekend. 

Earwood said Epicenter will help put Rockingham back on the map after losing the NASCAR races at the speedway.

“We are now back in the center of media attention in our country because of this event,” he said. “Hopefully it will all go well.”

Although Epicenter is a little different than the auto-related events Earwood hosts at the dragway, he’s no stranger to concerts.

“We’ve had Metallica twice over the years, so it’s not like the music industry is new to us … we kinda know what these things are going to be all about, what to expect, and we’re very excited,” he said.

The event runs Friday through Sunday with more than 60 bands —  including Tool, Foo Fighters, Judas Priest and Korn — performing on multiple stages.

“It’s going to be a big weekend for Richmond County,” Tucker said.


Last modified on Monday, 06 May 2019 20:04