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Hospitality and Tourism

Starting today: Fall for Greenville filling the streets with aromas and people

Hospitality and Tourism
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Thousands of people flood Main Street every October for the annual Fall for Greenville festival. (Photo/Proviided by the city of Greenville)After 41 years, the annual Fall for Greenville is now the biggest event of the year in the city.

Every year, thousands of people flood Main Street in downtown Greenville for the ‘tastes, tunes and taps’ around the festival.

“My family loves strolling up and down Main Street, sampling tasty bites and enjoying the sights and sounds of the festival,” said Greenville resident Cat Oliver.

Rodney Freidank, corporate chef of Table 301 Restaurant Group and Fall for Greenville board member, said he has participated in the event nearly every year since he moved to Greenville in 1994 — on Fall for Greenville weekend.

Greenville has grown astronomically since he moved here, downtown in particular, which he feels is a “model for many other downtowns across the country,” he said.

“As small cities grow, there are always challenges in keeping the character of those cities intact,” Freidank added. “When I moved to Greenville, I had never even heard of it until my dad was transferred here. It was on a visit that I decided to move here — a story which I’ve heard retold many times by many transplants. Over the years, we have not only grown in numbers, but we have exploded with restaurants and hotels. Fall for Greenville is wonderful for Greenville, because even though we grow so fast and so much, we still cherish our downtown like it’s a small town.”

Greenville has become a true culinary and hospitality destination, which is exemplified through events such as Fall for Greenville, he said. With 45 curated restaurant experiences and several food trucks along with great music and beverages, it makes for one of the best festivals in the country, in Freidank’s opinion.

“What’s best is that most of the restaurants represented are locally owned or small-company operated,” he added. “The food represents the great offerings that are available in the locations. Many of the restaurants are downtown with their brick-and-mortar locations only yards away from their Fall for Greenville tents. This provides an amazing marketing opportunity to us, as we can usually just point to the restaurant from the tent when they try our food and ask where we are located.”

City of Greenville Downtown Project Manager Cameron Campbell said Fall for Greenville is a catalyst for encouraging visitors to keep coming back to the city.

“It allows people to choose Greenville as a destination in the month of October,” she added. “From an economic standpoint, any time you can have a festival in your city with more than 200,000 visitors that enjoy your downtown, it’s a remarkable thing for the city and its businesses.”

Because the event has gone from a local festival to a nationally and internationally recognized festival, said Campbell, it allows for that footprint to expand. For visitors, they are walking the event site and experiencing all of Main Street, getting a taste of a restaurant they haven’t experienced before, and it becomes a place they keep coming back to.

Fall for Greenville will host 11 national food writers this year, and so far, online tickets sales have reached a record high, with visitors from 31 states.

“Going into the holiday season, retailers will see the impact of this event and the exposure it gave a lot of our businesses,” Campbell said.

Other downtown Greenville businesses also enjoy the extra business and hospitality the event brings to the city every year.

Robert Sullivan, owner of Sully’s Steamers, said overall the event is good for business.

“I choose to see it as a way to reach new customers,” he said. “Since we are franchising, it’s a way to get our reach out to regional customers. We are located in the thick of the festival, and we want to put our best foot forward. For me, it’s more about having a unique brand and product and getting more people to be able to experience it.”

Downtown businesses like Sully’s will be open for full business in their shops while also having a tent for the event. Even businesses without tents, such as Savannah Bee Company Greenville, are grateful for the business the annual event brings to Main Street and the city.

“Greenville is a fun, exciting, welcoming and growing community, for reasons like Fall for Greenville,” said Patrick Johnson, store manager of Savannah Bee Company Greenville. “Yes, the streets are blocked and filled with tents, but these tents bring a buzz of excitement and the delicious aroma of food from all over the Upstate. Good news to anyone concerned, the sidewalks are open, accessible and widely used during the event. This gives us — the brick-and-mortar downtown business — a chance to swing open our doors and let all the smells in and to welcome the thousands of festival goers in with them.”

While there are some downtown businesses that choose not to participate, said Friedank, the Fall for Greenville selection committee prioritizes those downtown locations for participation if they desire. Fall for Greenville draws people from all over the country, which also fills city hotel rooms and downtown stores with shoppers, he said.

“I am a big supporter of the four-day food and music festival and what all it does for our community,” Friedank said.

Both Friedank and Johnson said they have never experienced issues with event tents blocking their establishments or overcrowded sidewalks during the event.

“If anything, we find our business to be quite a beautiful backdrop for the tents and excitement on the streets,” Johnson added.

The Thursday night kickoff concert was from 5-10 p.m., kicking off with artists Andrew Crawford and Brandi Colt, Haley Mae Campbell and Chapel Hart; festival hours on Friday are from noon-10 p.m., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Saturday, and noon-7 p.m. on Sunday. Food vendors include but are not limited to Blaze Pizza, Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, Cantina 76, HipBurger, Larkin’s, Le Petit Croissant, Monkey Wrench Smokehouse, Sully’s Steamers, Sushi Murasaki and The Orient on Main. The Carolina Ale House Beer Garden will include brews from Bell’s Brewery, Hi-Wire Brewing, New Belgium and Victory Brewing Co.

Fall for Greenville is a 501c3, run by a board of trustees. The city of Greenville is contracted to manage the event. To learn more information about the event and to purchase taste tickets visit the event website at

Reach Krys at 864-640-4418.

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