MURPHYSBORO (WSIL)---Businesses across southern Illinois took hit after hit throughout the COVID pandemic, especially restaurants like 17th Street Barbecue.
"The restaurant industry has been so severely impacted by COVID. It's not only been the restrictions of having to close inside, or only having outside, or not even being able to serve people at all. The continued staffing crisis is beginning to take a toll," said 17th Street Barbecue owner Amy Mills.
But the upcoming Apple Festival offers a bright spot to business owners.
"It's really been a rough few years in southern Illinois, and Murphysboro to be specific, so the advent of the Apple Festival is really exciting to us and all of the area businesses," Mills said.
According to Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens, the income reports for the Apple Festival won't be in until around December, but historically, Murphysboro sees a 3-4% increase in revenue when the festival rolls around.
"Especially the downtown merchants are always happy about it. The grand parade, which is on Saturday, always attracts quite a few people. So our downtown merchants often premiere new items or have special hours during the week of the Apple Festival because we have so many people downtown," said Stephens.
17th Street Barbeque will also be doing special events, such as hosting reunions and serving drinks during the parade.
And after the festival was cancelled because of COVID last year, there is a renewed interest in the festivities.
"We're really looking forward to an opportunity to get out to see people in an outdoor safe area and in a safe way. It's really invigorating to invite people into town, and have a little excitement going on," said Mills.
The Apple Festival officially kicks off Wednesday, September 15th through Saturday, September 18th.