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The Daily Tar Heel

Local businesses bring together community through Jaws-themed festival


Small businesses along North Graham Street in Chapel Hill hosted JAWSFest, a two-day celebration of the 1975 film Jaws, on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. 

The Baxter Arcade, Rumors Boutique, Syd’s Hair Shop and the Beer Study hosted the mini block party which included an inflatable jousting arena, live music at Local 506, a flea market and food trucks. One of the most popular attractions was the dunk tank, as temperatures reached over 93 degrees during the day. Naturally, the festival also included a showing of Jaws inside The Baxter Arcade.

The festival was started by bartender Danny Miller, who wanted to create a festival to honor his favorite film. It has since blossomed into a community-based experience.

JAWSFest has been at its current location for the past four years, but it didn't start on North Graham Street.

“A bunch of bartenders who used to be at The Station in Carrboro got together and moved to this area,” said Rumors co-owner and JAWSFest organizer Casey Longyear.

The festival not only brings together community members, but local businesses as well.

“We do three flea markets a year and some little parties, but this is the only one with all the businesses together," Longyear said. 

JAWSFest used the weekend to support local environmental causes. Syd’s Hair Shop offered haircuts and other services with all proceeds going to the North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF). 

The NCCF uses the proceeds to restore oyster populations to protect the North Carolina shoreline. The organization had a booth where festival goers could learn more about the importance of protecting the coast and even adopt an oyster to support the cause.

“The adopt an oyster program supports our oyster goal, which is to restore 50 million oysters,” said Kelly Bodie, a representative of NCCF.

Guests were invited to bring their dogs while sitting outside The Baxter Arcade. Inside, vendors sold vintage clothing while patrons played arcade games or had drinks at the bar.

At night, the festival featured performances from local bands at Local 506.

Overall, JAWSFest was met with enthusiasm. 

“I love JAWSFest. I started working at Baxter’s because of JAWSFest," said The Baxter Arcade bartender Nick Wallhausser while donning a hat with a plush shark on it.

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