Local Labor Day festival plans to move forward despite DNC

by: Torie Wells Updated:

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MATTHEWS, N.C. - A local Labor Day festival that draws 200,000 people each year is moving forward with its plans, despite the fact its last day overlaps with the DNC's Carolinafest.

Each year, Matthews Alive raises $65,000-$95,000 and donates it all. This year, it will celebrate $1 million worth of giving over 20 years.

When people heard the DNC would be in town too, the questions started coming.

“I can't believe you are doing this. Did you ever think of canceling?” said Jayson Johnston, executive director of Matthews Alive.

Johnston said he told people no way, not when dozens of nonprofits rely on their help -- organizations like Blessed Assurance Adult Day Care.

“If my program was not there, caregivers would suffer,” said Nate Huggins, from Blessed Assurance. “Quality of life would suffer. These people would suffer.”

Planning around the DNC has proved to be challenging.

Johnston said typically, 40 percent of their venders come from out of town. This year, the DNC hotel freeze has cut that back.

“The hotels were blocked about a year in advance until about 10 days before the festival for the DNC, so that's made it a bit of a challenge to get some more out-of-town venders in," said Johnston.

He said some are getting creative and staying with friends, bringing campers or going further out of town. This year, the festival is using more local venders. It is also spending more on bigger music acts, hoping to keep attention on this local event.

Johnston said the DNC will of course be a boost for the area. But he doesn't want people to forget that Matthews Alive is here to stay.

“Regardless of if the DNC is coming or not, this is our community. We want to support our residents," said Huggins.

"Matthews Alive has been here for 20 years to build and grow, and we plan to be here another 20 years, and we just don't want that to be lost," said Johnston.

Eyewitness News asked the town how it will balance security for the event with helping with the DNC. We were told that Matthews Alive comes first. Right now the town is only planning to send two officers to help in Charlotte.