Uptown Greenville’s annual Freeboot Friday event will return for its 2021 season on Sept. 10, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. where Pirate Nation will showcase its pride to prepare for the first home football game of the spring season.
Uptown Greenville Events and Branding Director and Freeboot Friday host Courtnee McGrath said in an emailed statement that the event will feature various booths and sponsors, as well as multiple restaurants within walking distance.
“Freeboot Friday is the official pep rally of ECU home football games,” McGrath said. “The free, alive-at-five event offers live music and fun for the whole family with inflatables for children, arts and crafts, live music, food and adult beverages for those 21 and older.”
A press release from Uptown Greenville said the first Pirate Club Weekend Freeboot Friday will feature live music from “The Dundies,” the “highly acclaimed” band that will feature music such as classic rock and today’s hits.
Upcoming Freeboot Fridays, such as Family Weekend, Homecoming and Military Appreciation Day, will hear performances from “TrainWreck,” “Heads Up Penny” and “Painted Main.” Uptown Greenville will provide a game-day shuttle service from Sup Dogs to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
“The shuttle will run three hours prior, during, and two hours post-game for each home game, including Thursday game days,” the press release said.
Wells Fargo Greenville District Manager Jonathan Ipock said Wells Fargo donated $10,000 toward sponsoring Freeboot Friday. He said while Wells Fargo has sponsored the event for many years, he found this season's Freeboot Fridays important as a way to restore the center of Greenville as a place to gather.
Ipock said he believes the $10,000 will go a long way in promoting the community as well as supporting the many Uptown Greenville businesses that were impacted by COVID-19.
“We (Wells Fargo) want to help our communities that we’re a part of to really thrive and so this is just a way for us to continue to impact the business and the customers that we serve,” Ipock said. “When you look at, you know, what Wells Fargo really believes in and our community response, we have, you know, in 2020 really made a national commitment to donate money for economic recovery.”
Ipock said in North Carolina, Wells Fargo funded $10.8 million toward aiding local communities. He said it is common for Wells Fargo to get involved within its community’s local events and nonprofits and sponsoring Freeboot Friday is another one of those opportunities for them to get involved with the Greenville community.
Senior marketing major Jacob Hodgins said he attended Freeboot Fridays before COVID-19, where he saw vendor booths, food stands and hands-on activities.
“When me and my girlfriend would go pre-COVID(-19), there was a bunch of vendors, usually a concert, band kind of thing, bunch of food, games for kids,” Hodgins said. “We absolutely loved it, it was a good time.”
Hodgins said guests can expect many opportunities to try different foods and vendors such as crafts, jewelry, woodworking and more. He said if he could change anything about the event, it would be the location.
As the event is held in Uptown Greenville, Hodgins said he found it to be small for the number of people attending and he wished it would be held in a bigger location.
“It seemed, just, kind of cramped,” Hodgins said. “You could still walk around all the vendors and whatnot, but it really seemed like if there was more space, (you) could really enjoy it to its full potential.”
Hodgins said while he would love to attend upcoming Freeboot Fridays as he has enjoyed them in the past, he is undecided due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. He said because of COVID-19, vendors have struggled and will benefit from Freeboot Friday, though he does not believe the crowd will be as big as it has been in past years.
Students and Greenville locals should attend Freeboot Friday and experience the live music and various vendors, Hodgins said. He said if he decides to attend this season, he looks forward to enjoying his favorite food stands, such as funnel cake.