2020 Squealin’ Cancelled – Revamping Other Events

Main Street Laurens has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Squealin’ on the Square BBQ festival, which was scheduled for October 2nd and 3rd. The decision came 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 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.”

Jonathan Irick noted that while Squealin’ will not be held, plans are already underway for the 2021 version that will feature some changes. Main Street Laurens is also examining its remaining events for 2020 to determine if they can be changed, revamped, scaled down or otherwise modified to welcome people back downtown. Mayor Nathan Senn said, “We look forward to the twentieth annual Squealin’ on the Square being a very special event, breathing new life into our biggest annual festival. 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 Laurens has been busy working with its 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 has opened and several rehab ongoing projects continue. 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.