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Weekend events, tourists return to Carthage

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CARTHAGE, Ill. (WGEM) -- Saturday will be a busy day in Carthage and both residents and business owners say they can't wait.

The day begins at 8:15 a.m. with the five mile Strawberry Strut which organizers said more than 170 people have already registered for.

"The record is 229," Carthage Community Development director Amy Graham said. "We're hoping to see some more folks register tomorrow morning so we can break that record."

She said after the race wraps up around 10:30 a.m., the Hancock County Fights Cancer block party and Mississippi Rat Pack car show will begin around noon and go until 5:00 p.m..

Graham said not only do the events raise money for good causes, they also attract visitors.

"For our retailers and economic development, it is huge because we're not only going to to just draw local people to these events but we will draw people from the Tri-State area as well," she said.

Local business owners said events help spur growth across the whole community.

"It will bring in probably for the whole city probably another $100,000 so that is really great," Ben Franklin Crafts owner Tyrone Jacoby said.

He said it's great news after last year took a toll on his store.

"We were closed for six weeks and for a small town it hurt us, devastated us pretty bad," Jacoby said.

But he wasn't the only Carthage business to suffer when non-essential businesses were forced to close their doors last year.

"Anything that was non-essential got shut down so a lot of the stores were down for at least six weeks," Jacoby said.

But with lockdowns well in the rearview mirror, residents are ready to return to their pre-pandemic lives.

"Everyone is extremely excited about coming together and celebrating, not only for a good cause, but also just to see each other and be together," Graham said.

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Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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