COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Over 5,000 people flooded Columbus this week for the 2023 Georgia Thespian Conference.

The Georgia Thespians returned to Columbus for their 14th state conference in The Fountain City. The event leaves a lasting impression on students’ lives and a positive impact on the Columbus economy.

The three-day conference was hosted at venues across the city: the Columbus Trade Center, the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, the Springer Opera House and the Columbus State University Riverside Theatre.

The event included educational and competitive opportunities for Georgia’s top high school theater arts students. 

Students like Thescon veteran, Aidan Leonard, look forward to being surrounded by like-minded peers.

“Doing all the workshops, meeting new friends, seeing people who are like minded when it comes to theater because everyone knows the theater kid stereotype, but no one makes friends like a theater kid,” said Leonard.

In between workshops and showcases, students roamed around Downtown Columbus and flooded local businesses like the Freeze Frame Yogurt Shoppe and Fountain City Coffee leaving a lasting impact on shops along Broadway.

“When we have events to this level, a lot of our downtown community has grown,” said Columbus Georgia Convention and Trade Center Executive Director, Hayley Tillery. “More hotels, more restaurants, more establishments. Because when you bring the people to this area of Columbus, you’re able to support businesses like never before. So the economic impact continues to grow. I’m excited to hear what the numbers are this year.”

Thescon serves as one of the busiest times of year for the city’s economy. A new downtown hotel also had a soft opening. The Hampton Inn at Broadway and 12th Street opened their doors to accommodate Thescon participants.