Food vendor turned away from Southport 4th of July Festival

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The City of Southport has since apologized for how the situation with Joe Loves Lobster Rolls was handled.
(Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY)

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — Imagine spending thousands of dollars and planning for months to serve food at a festival, only to be turned away. That’s what one food vendor says happened to him in Southport Tuesday morning.

Tony Herndon, owner of Joe Loves Lobster Rolls, says festival organizers reached out to him to be a part of it. But when he showed up with a trailer full of lobster, he says electrical issues forced him to leave, issues he says are not his fault.

“I’ve been planning it now for about four months, and went down last night to set up the trailer, had it all set up and everything, I got there this morning, we went to plug the trailer in and it popped a breaker,” Herndon said.

Herndon says he paid $1,000 dollars to be a vendor at the festival, and spent $10,000 on fresh lobster. He says he’s taken his trailer to multiple festivals in the past and has never had an issue with electricity.

“The Guy next to me in the booth, actually, said that he was at the blueberry festival, he had the same problem, they called out a master electrician, they fired it right up and it worked,” Herndon said. “And I asked about that and he said that they couldn’t do that.”

The city has since apologized for how the situation was handled, and offered to let Herndon use a generator to power his trailer. Herndon, however, already came up with a new plan.

“I’m going to partner with communities in schools over the next two days,” Herndon said. “They have not done their school supply drive yet. It’s a great organization.”

If you bring a school supply or a donation of $3.00 or more to Herndon’s Boiling Spring Lakes location Wednesday or Thursday, you’ll get a Joe roll for $17.76, and other deals.

Mallory Wells, who works for communities in schools, says they collect everything on the Brunswick County Schools list.

​“It could be anywhere from a book bag, to a pack of pencils, to loose leaf paper, 3 ring binders are ones our middle school students struggle with the most,” Wells said.

Festival Chair Trisha Howarth says Herndon will get back his full deposit, and she encourages festival-goers to support his business.

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