ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany hotels and restaurants are bracing for what is expected to be their busiest weekend of the year as thousands of visitors come to town for Albany State University's Homecoming.
The Golden Rams homecoming is expected to have an economic impact of more than $4 million in Albany, and businesses are making last minute preparations for the busy weekend.
ASU's Homecoming has been a tradition at Carter's Grill in Downtown Albany.
"That's our best weekend of the year. Bar none," said Carter's Grill Owner Eddie Carter Jr.
Carter's employees will be working all night, preparing thousands of meals of fried chicken and pork chops.
"We usually start picking up heavy traffic on Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Our big day is Sunday," explained Carter. "After the homecoming is over, people check out of their hotels. They come by the restaurant and eat with us."
The managers at the Hilton Garden Inn said that Homecoming Week in Albany is something they plan for all year.
"The entire staff, they are just gearing up. Exciting and just overwhelming," said Hilton Garden Inn Housekeeping Manager Vicki Thomas.
The Hilton has actually been booked every night for two months.
Between Hurricane Matthew, the Sunbelt Ag Expo this week, and this weekend's homecoming have made a hotel room anywhere in Albany a very rare thing to find.
"They have. We have been literally calling around, trying to find hotel room nights for those guests calling us," explained Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Rashelle Beasley.
And homecoming this year is expected to be bigger than ever.
And with the consolidation of Darton College and Albany State, future homecomings are expected to grow even more.
Business owners said that they will have to grow to meet demand.
"It will be better for the city and overall," said Carter.
Carter and his restaurant have a real history with Albany State's Homecoming, his sister, Lonnie, was the second ever Albany State Homecoming Queen back in 1946.