By Mickey Howley
Ramona Bernard was counting stops last week making sure she had all of them listed and in some semblance of order. The stop crawl count was 15 if I heard right—that would include the downtown galleries—and six new house/studio locations for this year and a bit over 40 artists overall. Pretty good numbers for a town of 3,500 folks. This the sixth year of the art crawl and the crawl is still doing what it set out to do –get folks out on the town walking around, seeing local art, and having fun. What I always like is the range of folks who come out; the event brings out the whole community. Don’t forget it is kid friendly, too.
You’ll be able to get a map in this paper next week or pass by any of the galleries the night of the crawl pick one up there. There is no sequence or pattern you must follow. Crawling goes from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and the after party is at D & D House of BBQ on Main Street. So Saturday night get ready to crawl around and bring your walking shoes, the Valley gets parked up quick.
Speaking of the street all parked up, last week Oxford installed parking meters downtown. You can park for a dollar per hour from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. all day if you want, the only exceptions on football game days, and the off street parking lots are still free. The idea is to increase frequent turnover of downtown spaces for diners and shoppers and other short-term users. A study Oxford did claimed many downtown workers were locking up storefront spaces. When you consider for a retail business owner, those storefront spaces are worth an average of $17 thousand dollars a year to that business, that space has value. That’s a national average for Main Streets, my guess a space in Oxford is theoretically worth a whole bunch more. Why did Oxford put in parking meters, given that meters are universally despised and parking ticket hated? Ultimately it comes down to courtesy. If you work downtown, park away from your building and not in front or directly behind someone else’s building either. Most folks in the Valley are pretty good about that.
Patrice Frey is the National Main Street Director. She has been on the job for a year and half and I’ve seen her in action twice at the national conventions. And with the exception of a slip off the stage in Detroit this year, she’s been making smooth and agile progress in running the program. She is coming to the Valley next Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. She’d like to meet folks here. I think you’ll like her. She’s smart, educated, hard working, young (okay, youngish) and a lot like the business women bringing the Valley’s Main Street back. She is in charge of the 1,000 plus Main Street towns across America and she is making a solid effort to see this one. Hopefully she thinks we’ve done something right. Next Wednesday night (17th) it would be really great if you could stop by the Crawdad Hole after seven pm and say “Hi” to Patrice. They’ll be a band playing and good food to eat. She’d like to visit and hear about the Valley’s Main Street.