Local Economy Benefits from Weekend Festivals

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Millions of dollars area being poured into our local economy this weekend, and local business owners can thank two large events for all the extra cash.

British Quality Imports is only open during the week, but with more than a thousand shoppers expected to take over Downtown Panama City this weekend for the 36th Annual Spring festival of the Arts, owners Sue and Peter Ashby thought it would be smart to keep their doors open.

"It's a ladies event and you associate ladies with tea, and it's a beautiful spring day and we're happy to see everyone," says Peter Ashby, owner of British Quality Imports.

The festival not only raises about $50,000 for local children's causes, but countless dollars for downtown businesses.

"Anything that gets people down here other than just regular 9 to 5, Monday through Friday is a good thing for business," says Jennifer Jones of the Bay Art Alliance.

And while hundreds are flocking to downtown to catch a glimpse of the latest art-deco, a storm of thunder is taking over the beach. More than 30,000 bikes are expected for the seventh Annual Thunder Beach, and these bikers are expected to spend big.

"We're planning to ride, see scenery, enjoy the beach and sun, have a good time. I'll probably spend about $800 to a thousand bucks," says Lee Carroll of Georgia.

That means if the average biker spent even half of what John plans to spend it would bring millions to Panama City Beach in just one weekend.

"It's a great thing for the beach. It brings a bigger crowd than spring break in one weekend, so I don't see where we can go wrong promoting this event," says Jason Scherer, Thunder Beach Organizer.

The Spring Festival of the Arts will continue on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Thunder Beach will continue into Saturday night and Sunday as well. For details go to www.thunderbeachproductions.com