Street Fair exemplifies natural uniqueness of Yellow Springs
By C.C. Hutten
On Saturday, Oct. 12, the Yellow Springs Street Fair will cause a town of 3,000 people to grow to a town of 30,000.
“There’s just something about Yellow Springs,” said Holly Simpson, marketing and events coordinator of the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a very open community.”
Named “The Best Place to People Watch” by Ohio Magazine, the free, one-day festival showcases 65 shops and eateries and will feature more than 250 street vendors. In addition to retail and food, the event offers a little bit of everything for everyone.
“We’re eclectic,” Simpson said. “You never know what you’re going to see or experience on any given day. For the Street Fair, that potential goes up exponentially.”
What the town usually has to offer will be tripled, according to Simpson. Entertainment, food, art, music, biking, beer and other unique aspects of the town will be amplified for the Street Fair – and audiences will revel in its culture.
“There’s a great sense of community here, and people catch on to that when they come to town. We have something for everybody,” Simpson said. “There is a huge culture here at Yellow Springs. Some places are trying figure out ways to be unique, and all we have to do is be.”
One of the major aspects of the Street Fair is the Beer Garden – an open-air music festival that features local craft, domestic and international beer over a large green space that invites visitors to bring blankets and umbrellas and listen to music all day.
The line-up this year shows off the musical talents of local artists from alternative singer/songwriters to blues/funk bands on the Bryan Center Stage. Voluntarily furnished by Don and Christine Beard, owners of Peach’s Bar & Grill, the Beer Garden will be open from noon until 7 p.m.
“I tried to keep a variety so no one gets bored,” Christine Beard said. “But their sounds are not far away from each other.”
With sound run by Grammy-winner Tim Berger, artists will perform at the top of every hour. The line-up includes: Dave Schumacher, Jeannie Ulrich and The Devil’s Backbone, Gin-Soaked Angels, Grampy Bone, Speaking Suns, Will C. & f.a.m.i.l.y. and The Subterranean House Band.
After the headliner, The Subterranean House Band, performs at the Bryan Center Stage at the Beer Garden, they will move to Peach’s to perform again at 10 p.m. Additionally, there will be a donation box to support and collect funds for musician Carl Schumacher, who is suffering from a rare leukemia, myelofibrosis.
What started out as a sidewalk sale for merchants downtown has morphed over the years into the refined fair that it is today.
“[The Street Fair] has grown enormously over the last 10 years, especially the last five,” Beard said. “It has just grown to amazing proportions. It’s pretty big for a tiny town.”
One the major changes is the increase of the footprint of the event. The Street Fair will now take over Main, Corry and Dayton Streets. “We haven’t increased the vendors,” Simpson said. “We’ve just spread everyone out so that things are a little bit less crowed for those coming into town.”
Simpson said that not only will merchants on Dayton Street enjoy being a major part of the fair, but also all of the aisles have been widened. “We have spontaneous street performers, roving vendors … There will be a lot more space for people.”
Because Dayton Street is being closed off for the festival, free shuttles will be provided from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for visitors. There will be two destinations at which to park and then take a bus to the Street Fair: one from Yellow Springs High School at 6800 Springfield-Xenia Road, for visitors coming from the Dayton direction, and the other from major tourist attraction Young’s Jersey Dairy at 420 E. Enon Road, for those coming from the Columbus direction.
The festival has an enormous positive impact on all of the businesses in Yellow Springs, especially the ones that are downtown. This includes not-for-profit business, because it gives them an opportunity to get their name out and make contact with thousands of people in one day.
“The [Yellow Springs] Chamber of Commerce does an amazing job picking really unique vendors to keep it fresh,” Beard said. “It’s not just the just the same stuff at every other local or regional festival. It’s truly an artisan’s fair. The majority of everything we have is hand-made quality art, not processed things that people sell from elsewhere.”
Simpson said that because of the “tourist town” nature of Yellow Springs, the fall Street Fair helps the town get through the winter. The Street Fair draws people who are from the region, and even people who may not have heard of, or ever visited, Yellow Springs. Businesses that started out as Street Fair vendors have transformed over the years into downtown businesses.
“It makes a huge financial impact on our community,” Simpson said.
Simpson said many phrases have been used to describe Yellow Springs and its atmosphere – but the best one for the Street Fair is, “You can be yourself here.”
“Yellow Springs is definitely a destination village and always has been. We haven’t deviated from that path much,” Beard said. “The Street Fair is a bigger embodiment of the uniqueness of our town.”
The Yellow Springs Street Fair takes place Saturday, Oct. 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the Peach’s Bar & Grill Beer Garden remaining open until 7 p.m. For more information, please contact the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce at 937.767.2686 or visit DestinationYellowSprings.com.