Hamburg resident Mark Whipple said he enjoys Burgerfest and what it does to the village. From left: August Bistro & Bar bartender Evan Granville and Whipple.
HAMBURG — Burgerfest is a festival tradition in the village of Hamburg, dating back to 1985. The one-day event, which features food, vendors, music and more, will be located along Main and Buffalo streets and in the village of Hamburg municipal parking lot on July 19, right in front of many local businesses.
The festival features many local restaurants and many Hamburg residents see the event as “good for business.” Some businesses set up shop on the street for the day, working from a booth or under a tent, rather than their usual storefronts. Many proprietors come from out of town to sell their wares in Hamburg for one day only, offering additional friendly competition for established shops. But for many, it is all in good fun.
Resident Heather Williams and her son Kellan found past Burgerfest s to be fun for the whole family.
“He [Kellan] liked the bounce houses and car show. I like the crowd it brings out. Everybody’s out for a good time. It’s all about local businesses,” she said. “Even the local shops with the tents were great.”
At last year’s Burgerfest, Mark Whipple saw firsthand what a positive effect the festival can have, as he dined at August Bistro & Bar.
“There was a lot of energy and wall-to-wall people. I think it is great for businesses, because it brings a lot of people from outside Hamburg to experience the village. It gives people an opportunity to see what Hamburg is all about and what local businesses have to offer,” Whipple said. “It almost feels like going back to the older days, the 30s and 40s. You can feel the village come to life.”
Fancy That! co-owner MaryAnne Vail, whose shop sells gifts and chochtkes for the home and self-care, said that she sees more walk-ins on that day, leading to better sales.
And for many businesses along Main and Buffalo Streets, such as Fancy That!, Whipple’s assessment is accurate.
“I think it’s a great draw for businesses,” said Fancy That! co-owner, MaryAnne Vail. “It’s great exposure, and not just for people living in Hamburg. Generally, sales are better that day.”
But while boosting some, the event is not beneficial to all local businesses.
Rick Satanek, owner of Hess Brothers Florist Inc. said, “It’s a negative effect [for me], because of the nature of my business. A lot of my business is walk-ins and phone orders. It prevents my customers from coming in. It’s usually the slowest day of the year for me. But it brings people into the community and hopefully they see I’m here and remember for the future.”
According to Town & Country Mattresses & Sofa Beds owner Roger Hancock, Burgerfest prevents his customers from getting to his shop, as well. He added that he thinks that the festival should ideally be at the Hamburg Fairgrounds, where local storefronts will not be obscured by tents or booths.
Burgerfest’s crowds and temporary displays also disrupts the rhythm of Tim Pudhorodsky, the mail carrier for Main Street.
“I’m in the process of trying to start delivering the mail an hour earlier. I try to get done before it [Burgerfest] starts. Last year, I had to park and walk all the way down Main Street.”
Denise Fenton, owner of Main Street Ice Cream, said she can see both positive and negative affects from the festival.
“I love Burgerfest. It’s one of our busiest days. I love seeing people and the activities. But it shuts off local traffic. Some businesses have to shut down. It’s like a double-edge sword.”
Read more about Burgerfest and its events on Page A2 and B9.