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A big welcome for all the big money Essence Fest brings to the city

Essence Festival 2013 is heating up. The 4-day celebration of music, empowerment, and community draws in visitors from near and far; all here to build lasting memories.

“Looking to enjoy some of the seminars, concerts, just have a good time,” visitor Joy Fleming said.

Some 400-thousand participants are pouring into the city; and with them comes their money.

The economic impact on both the city and state stands at more than 100-million dollars over the July 4th weekend.

WGNO New Reporter Darian Trotter asked, “What are some of the things you’ll spend money on? Food, good food,” Fleming replied.

“Clothes, shoes, pocket books, jewelry, always,” visitor Evette Smith said.

“Some of the shows, concerts of course, always souvenirs to take back home,” Fleming said.

Trotter asked, “What’s your budget? I don’t have one,” visitor Tonia Bowie replied.

Essence says this year attendance and ticket sales are up.

It’s no wonder why the same is true for hotel occupancy.

People are already lining up at downtown restaurants.

Bars and other businesses are benefiting too.

The Essence crowd is credited annually with helping boost business during the summer slump.

“And of course the long-term impact is a lot of people come down here who’ve never been to the city of New Orleans and the fall in love with it and they always come back over and over,” restaurant co-owner Moe Bader said.

At The Society Page manager Willie Mackie is looking forward to showing customers old and new a changed atmosphere.

The Bar has been completely renovated.

“We had a tremendous crowd last night and if it’s any indication of what we’re going to do this weekend, we’ve got all hands on deck,” Willie Mackie said.

So for a group of Columbia South Carolina group, and scores of others, options for food and drink are endless.

“We’ve stocked up the bar, we’ve stocked up everything and we’re ready,” Mackie said.

Musical performances are slated Friday through Sunday, with Beyonce closing out the weekend.

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