ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Families pouring into the streets of downtown Albuquerque Saturday filled local businesses with a new sense of hope.
The SOMOS ABQ festival showed off the city’s music scene, arts and entertainment on Central Avenue between 3rd and 7th streets. Some of the fan favorites included concerts, food vendors, a beer garden for adults and games for families.
Thousands of people — many of them families — spent hours along Central despite a stigma that downtown is too dangerous. Business owners there are hoping that means that perception is changing.
The evening brought a big boost for local business.
“It was record-breaking for us,” Duel Brewing Manager Dakota Vigil said. “It was the best weekend we’ve ever had since we’ve been open for a year and a half.”
“Since we’ve only been open a month, it was the biggest day we’ve seen,” Humble Coffee Co. barista Ian Keller added.
The restaurants, bars and shops along Central seemed more interested in the exposure the event offered for new clientele.
“A lot more people that were from Nob Hill, from the west side and people we normally wouldn’t have gotten in touch with,” Boiler Monkey Bistro Owner Matthew Fuemmeler said.
Many hope the influx helps curb a belief among many that downtown is dirty, crime-ridden and stalled in growth.
“It’s going to take all of us coming as a community- coming out and participating in these events that’s going to make it a positive atmosphere,” said Gregg Griego of Albuquerque.
“The police force was out. They had ambulance and fire [department],” Lindy’s manager Dylan Constant said. “To me it seemed like everyone was safe (and) under control.”
Despite the many cones and orange barrels from the nearby A.R.T. project, the business owners want those who came Saturday to come back to help support the downtown economy through the construction.
“It’s just good exposure,” Vigil said. “It brings people downtown and they see what’s here and see what they might enjoy like bars, coffee shops, breweries and then decide to come back.”
The consensus among business owners was the event was a big success.
“I wish it had been maybe a little bit longer,” Deep Space Coffee barista Matthew Campbell said. “We had lines out the door for most of the evening. I feel like we kind of caffeinated the whole venue, which was really great.”
“We’d like to change the conversation that people have in regards to downtown Albuquerque. And with stuff like this happening last night, I think that’s what we do is we change the conversation by showing people that there are other things that are happening downtown,” Sumner and Dean Gallery artist Davis Snow stated. “Really positive, fabulous things. Isn’t that the goal?”
SOMOS ABQ said the final attendance numbers for its inaugural event are still coming in, but organizers already plan to bring the event back next year.
APD said officers who patrolled the festival did not report any “critical incidents.”