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'I think it’s gonna be like a circus': Walterboro community prepares for visitors as Murdaugh murder trial begins

As jury selection begins in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial, Walterboro residents are preparing for an increase in foot traffic to the historic downtown.

WALTERBORO, S.C. — It’s day one of the Murdaugh murder trial. People are headed into Colleton County as Walterboro residents prepare for increased foot traffic from the trial, which has gained international attention.

"I think it’s gonna be like a circus," Walterboro resident Teresa Davis explained.

Davis says she’s gearing up for lots of visitors to her hometown. People like Joanna Beckert from Greenville are heading to the "front porch of the lowcountry" for the start of the Murdaugh murder trial.

"We just wanted to step in and try to observe," Beckert told me. "This is one of the biggest, the biggest trial I think that has been in South Carolina."

Beckert and her sister came for the day, hoping to get inside the courtroom for jury selection. They weren’t able to make it inside, but they’re exploring downtown Walterboro.

"It’s a beautiful town," Beckert remarked. "It’s hard to believe that something like this is going on here now."

For downtown business manager Teresa Busbee, this attention isn’t something she’s happy about.

"It’s a sad situation and it’s sad that we’re getting the publicity this way," Busbee shared. "It’s not what Colleton County wanted, it’s not what Walterboro wanted…the publicity this way."

But for others like local food truck owner Blaine Colson, it’s a way to bring business into the area.

"Business is business," he shrugged. "I mean, the more people, the merrier it is."

The more people, the better for the economy, according to longtime resident Natalie Fields.

"It’s just so many people here. We’re not used to all this traffic here in Walterboro," Fields said "Put some revenue in the town. We need it," she added.

"It’s an opportunity," shop owner Jessica Burdick continued. "And you know it is what it is, but you can make the most of what life gives you so that’s what we’re trying to do."

Burdick is preparing for the increased traffic by opening her shop, Twig, earlier the next few weeks, and by adding some amenities like a temporary coffee bar.

"[It's] here for the locals and you know the people who are coming through cuz coffee’s important," she laughed. "I call it liquid enthusiasm."

Burdick isn’t the only one. Other businesses in the downtown area are opening early to accommodate more people. There is also an area designated for food trucks right by the courthouse where vendors will be set up every day.

News 19 will have continued coverage during the trial, so make sure to keep an eye out for all you need to know.

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