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Virginia Beach leaders, business owners address Patriotic Festival's move to Norfolk with reactions, hopes for future festivals

City leaders said they couldn't host the festival on a busy Memorial Day weekend, but only recently learned about the move. Business owners could face another hit.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach city leaders say they'll look for new opportunities while Oceanfront business owners fear another economic hit, with the Patriotic Festival moving from Virginia Beach to Norfolk for 2022.

Mayor Bobby Dyer said he only learned of the planned switch recently, but Virginia Beach couldn't host the Patriotic Festival at the Oceanfront on a busy Memorial Day weekend - when festival organizers wanted to hold the event.

He said the festival's departure is a loss for Virginia Beach, but city leaders will look for another event to take its place.

"If they have to move, we’re glad they moved to our neighbor and friend Norfolk, where people in Virginia Beach can go," Dyer told 13News Now. "We don't want to lament, we want to be positive and move forward."

RELATED: Ready to Rock: More than 8,000 runners prepare for the final Rock 'n' Roll Races in Virginia Beach

Festivals bring many people to the Oceanfront area - a reliable source of income for business owners and the hospitality industry.

Virginia Beach leaders estimated the Patriotic Festival made a $6.47 million impact on the local economy in 2018 - the last year it was analyzed.

That was the smallest impact of the major events in the resort area that year, but still significant for hotel, motel, restaurant and store owners.

“It’s a big loss you know, all kinds of business, motel, people at restaurants, or hotel business," said Rashmin Patel, a worker at the Beach Carousel motel near the Oceanfront.

Patel said it'll be tough unless something else drives people to the Oceanfront next year during the hoped-for festival weekend.

"The effect will be at least 30 to 40% less business, you know, all those people are going to [stay] in Norfolk," he said. "So we are going to lose Something in the Water, now the Patriotic Festival. Who knows? Maybe something else too."

Previously, the Rock N Roll Running Series announced its departure from Virginia Beach, and Pharrell said the popular Something in the Water festival may not return for a second run. 

RELATED: 'Toxic energy' | Pharrell letter casts doubt on Something in the Water 2022

Patriotic Festival organizers shared additional economic impact data with 13News Now for the 2019 festival, adding that 'weather issues' in 2018 affected impacts, and the festival produced a "much more robust result" in 2019.

The 2019 summary says the festival generated $23 million in economic impacts in 2019, with the City of Virginia Beach pocketing a $738,000 increase in tax revenue.

The estimates provided by the festival organizers come from the analysis of a private firm - Mangum Economics - so they're not directly comparable to the city's reports from a year prior.

Virginia Beach sponsored the Patriotic Festival from 2017 to 2019, paying $100,000 each year. City estimates show the festival brought in tax revenues of more than $77,000, creating 80 jobs.

Mayor Dyer said the festival’s move to Norfolk opens a door for something new.

“You know let’s go out and through adversity find opportunity and find other groups we would be willing to accommodate and find a nice home right here and a nice venue in Virginia Beach," he said. 

Dyer said he's going to be "positive about getting Something in the Water back," and noted the new Virginia Beach sports center is attracting many people to the area.

The East Coast Surfing Championship, Neptune Festival, and Shamrock Marathon are the remaining resort events with the biggest economic impacts, according to the city’s most recent analysis.

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