Photos: Friday at Squealin' on the Square

 

Main Street Laurens has made the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Squealin’ on the Square, KCBS BBQ Cook-Off and festival, scheduled for October 2 & 3. The decision comes after several meetings with state and local partners along with sponsors of the event.

Squealin’ on the Square is the largest event Main Street Laurens hosts each year, attracting people from across the southeast. Typically over 100 vendors and 25-30 BBQ teams and between 5,000-10,000 people converge on the square for a fun filled weekend each fall.

When COVID-19 spread and the shutdown occurred, Main Street Laurens had to begin looking at all of their events planned for the year.

“We look forward to this event every year and this decision did not come easily for us,” explains Jonathan Irick, Executive Director of Main Street Laurens. “We have new guidelines for festivals and mass gatherings that have to be considered and due to the space we have for the event, the steering committee just couldn’t see a way to hold the event under the circumstances. After talking with several sponsors, they expressed a desire for us to be part of the solution and not the problem.”

While this event will not be taking place, plans are already underway for the 2021 version that will feature some changes for the event. Main Street Laurens is also examining its remaining events for 2020 to determine if they can be changed, revamped, scaled down, etc, in order to welcome people back downtown.

“We look forward to the twentieth annual Squealin’ on the Square being a very special event, breathing new life into our biggest annual festival,” said Nathan Senn, Mayor of Laurens, “However, this year, we understand that Main Street Laurens has made the wise decision to cancel the event until public health conditions allow for the festival to be held safely. The City of Laurens strongly supports this decision and the way it reflects our community’s commitment to working together to keep each other safe and healthy by preventing the spread of infection,. There will be plenty of time for celebration, but now is the

time for determination and unity in defeating this virus.”

Main Street organizations across the state and the country are all evaluating their promotional plans and making adjustments as possible.

While Main Street Laurens will not be holding Squealin’ on the Square this year, the organization has been busy working with the small businesses during the COVID shutdown to help them stay afloat and stay abreast of the

guidelines coming from the state. During the shutdown several owners made improvements to their businesses, one new business opened and several rehab ongoing projects continued, all of which improved downtown.

Main Street Laurens developed the COVID Utility Recovery Disbursement Grant assisting 20 business owners who applied with their utility and telephone bills. The organization is also working on a tech audit for the businesses which will include marketing workshops and assistance for businesses to strengthen their online presence. This project is supported by a

grant from the Grills Fund for Main Street Revitalization, administered by the National Main Street Center, Inc and funded by Joe and Marge Grills.