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Street Talk

Sometimes Lots Of Traffic Is A Good Thing

By Mickey Howley

Last Friday night Main Street Water Valley was packed up from church to Panola. Not a spot available. There was a lot going on. Rounders Pizza had a full house, not an empty table until 9 p.m. The Main Attraction was booked with a private party. Bozarts Gallery was open. Yalo Studio was having their grand opening. The BTC Grocery was open until 10 p.m. Defining Moments Photography was open well into the evening. El Charrito had a full house. The White Star was packed to hear Kenny Brown.

I heard all kinds of comments. The Presbyterian Ladies crew was downtown and loved the energy on the street, “Isn’t this wonderful!” was the comment.

Bobby Turnage had to park at the back in the city’s main street parking lot and then wait a half hour for a table at Rounders Pizza and said, “Hey that’s okay, this is great.” Three Australians with a lady from Greenville walked in at Bozarts and got some art and had it wrapped to take back down under.         

Nice town, eh!” was how they put it. Oxford’s most famous personality, Ron Shapiro, was at Yalo Studio saying, “Man, it’s happening in the Valley.” If Ronzo is coming to the Valley on a Friday night, you know it is the place to be.

One longtime Vallian said, “There have not been as many cars on Main Street since Cow Night at People’s Wholesale.” That’s outside of my frame of reference, but it sounds good.  Jessica at the BTC said at 9:45 p.m., “People just keep coming in.” Candy Tallant said, “We need this kind of traffic during the day”.

The truth is that for years most Friday nights downtown were next to dead. All parking spaces were available, often there was not a single car parked on Main Street after 7 p.m. By 11 p.m. when the traffic lights go to amber flashing, most of the traffic was the WVPD on patrol. In the nine years I’ve been in this town, I have only seen Main Street as busy on a Friday night twice. Both times were for the Water Valley Art Council’s Studio Crawl. (Let me note: Oxford just started their own art crawl last month.) These art driven events – as in the case for much of last Friday – fill the street with cars and the sidewalk with people. I think that says something for the power of art to be a catalyst for positive change.         

That’s what Main Street is shooting for: cars parked means people in downtown buildings, and people in these buildings means business.  And the buildings are once again “alive” and contributing to the community.

An upcoming event that promises to fill the street with people is the “World’s Largest Crappie Festival” this coming May 7. Like the past Main Street Spring festivals, this one will feature games, food, music, and local arts and crafts.  But this festival also pays tribute to Water Valley’s fishing heritage and Fred Bright’s monster slab of a crappie. This year the festival will feature the “King Crappie Cook-off.” If you are a Crappie Master, please contact us. Check it out at www.watervalleymainstreet.com

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