Fredericton businesses ready to welcome music lovers as ECMAs kick off Wednesday

The sun was shining and the volume was up at noontime Tuesday on a downtown Fredericton restaurant patio, where preparations were underway to get the space ready for what promises to be a busy week.

The East Coast Music Awards begin Wednesday and the event couldn’t come at a better time for businesses.

“We definitely need it,” said restaurant owner and Downtown Fredericton Inc. President Mike Babineau. “I think the community wants to come out and really have a good time, I know a lot of people are coming from outside the city and we want to be welcoming and have everything ready.”

He said they’re “dusting the cob webs” and hoping Mother Nature keeps the sun shining so that patios can be open for music lovers.

Fredericton bid on the 2022 ECMA’s before the pandemic, but Fredericton Tourism staff recognize how fortunate the timing is now.

“There’s a pent-up demand for travel right now so there’s an awful lot of people that are coming, our hotel occupancy numbers are indicating that as well,” said Stacey Russell, manager at Fredericton Tourism & Events, City of Fredericton. “Projections in terms of what the ECMA’s are valued at is over $3 million, so that’s exactly what we need right now as we look post-pandemic.”

Two years of closures, cancellations and physical distancing have businesses looking forward to full venues and hotels.

“I am happy to say that the ECMA's have contributed significantly to our being full from Wednesday to Saturday this week!” said Trevor Morgan, general manager of the Crowne Plaza. “Definitely a great event for our business and the local economy in general.”

There are still some hotels with rooms available, which Fredericton Tourism is keeping an eye on through their social media.

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, about 40 per cent of small businesses in Canada are back to normal revenues.

“One advantage this year is that we don’t have to do the social distancing on the patios, so we’re able to really kind of put in a few extra tables and maximize that to its full extent,” said Babineau.

The festivities begin Wednesday May 4 and go until Sunday May 8 at locations and venues across the city.