I live in a very small town. There’s no Walmart, no movie theatre, just a couple of grocery stores, drug stores, and fast food restaurants. The remaining merchants in town are pretty much locally-owned businesses, which I love. Since we’ve lived here the past decade, downtown has really undergone changes to make it quaint and aesthetically pleasing.
One of the most significant changes was the creation of an arts building downtown. It houses a small gallery, a restaurant, and a small theatre. Next to it is a courtyard with seating and artist studios. It’s one of my favorite things about our town now. The arts council does a fabulous job of planning events and performances so the community can enjoy it. One of these include a third Friday theme event during the summer. June’s event was held tonight; it was Sports Night.
Anytime E sees anything with the word “sports” attached, he begs to be a part of it. And with that word, it doesn’t take much to convince my husband to participate, either. This sounded like a great family evening with food, music, vendors, and kids activities. Last weekend, I met up with my niece and sister-in-law to attend the arts council’s Princess Party and there was a huge crowd in attendance so I expected much the same tonight. I was wrong.
The family loaded into the car and headed to downtown. The event was scheduled from 5-8 pm. We arrived around 5:30. There were few people other than vendors. The food smelled wonderful. The DJ’s selection of music was fine, but nobody was there. We said hello to vendors. We walked through the gallery. We scanned the kids activities. A section of the road was blocked off, but nobody was there. It appeared to be a total bust. We left within 10 minutes of arriving.
We drove to a restaurant to eat and then decided to drive back by and there were significantly more people, but by this time the moment had passed. We kept driving.
I’m not quite sure where the sports theme came from as we saw nothing even closely related to sports. The bounce house was overpriced, in my opinion. There were some interesting vendors — including local artists and craftsmen. That was a definite plus. And there was a decent selection of food — including sliced watermelon, grilled corn on the cob, and hot dogs. There was wine. But there were no people.
It seems like this would be a great idea if more downtown businesses would become involved. I can imagine all those local merchants in the downtown area opening up their doors and having a sidewalk sale — or at the very least having a booth at the arts council event with their signature products. I could imagine families attending and seeing kids dancing in front of the DJ. There is much potential in this idea, but more participation is key to making it successful. No matter how well planned an event is or how many fabulous vendors you bring, it will not matter unless you get people there.
Regardless, today’s first, attending the Sports Night and a Third Friday event at the arts council, is complete.