Day one of the Water Follies a hit for local vendors

KENNEWICK, Wash. - You may not have noticed Columbia Park, but it's a little busy on Friday, and it's going to remain that way for the rest of the weekend. The Hydro fans are loving it and so too are all the vendors, they say it's their chance to make big bucks on the bank of the Columbia.

Brad Faulk and his family are new to the Water Follies, they just opened a new business "Cowboys BBQ" off Wellsian Way in Richland this past month and are testing their brisket on the Columbia.

"I heard it gets kind of crazy here with a lot of people, which is good, we want to sell a lot of BBQ, it's a good thing," said Cowboys BBQ owner, Brad Faulk.

Usually considered a slow day, Brad can't believe the amount of foot traffic he is getting so early on a Friday.

"I didn't expect this big of a crowd this soon, so it's a good sign, hopefully we'll sell a lot of BBQ," said Faulk.

But for experienced vendors like Scott Neil, he sees a good weekend on the horizon.

"Everybody should be able to make money who is here as a vendor, they all love it, it doesn't matter what they're selling, they love being here," said Tropical Sno Cone owner, Scott Neil.

The Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau projects the weekend will bring more than 6,000 out-of-towners and over $2.6 million in visitor spending. Now staff say those projections were before the announcement of five new boats to the races, causing vendors to expect even more.

"A lot of people could be jones-ing to come here and enjoy our Tri-Cities river of fire," said Neil.

While some, like Scott, are confident, first time vendors are hoping that this will be the launching pad to a new career.

"We do this on the side, we work full time, but we eventually want to do this more and more," said D-Lish Mini Donuts owner, Melissa Wheeler.

While some come to the river on Friday to relax, others come for the food.

"The snow cone guy has been here for 20 years and same guy, same snow cones, they taste great," said boat race-goer, Andie Newton.

Local vendors at the park tell KEPR they expect to make at least $3,000 to make the weekend worth while.