Street Fair Survival

This is an article that originally appeared in Dayton City Paper.

Imagine a bright summer day under the canvas of a crystal clear sky. Picture walking down a busy cheerful street where delicious smells and tastes fight for your attention against the beauty of art and rhythm of music. Every face is smiling and everyone is welcome. This is an atmosphere of celebration. This is the kick-off to summer. This is the Yellow Springs street fair.

Street fairs are supposed to feature the usual local vendors while bringing in a few unique outside businesses. But in Yellow Springs the streets are already colorful with local shops and artisans who are themselves creative, innovative and unique. The Yellow Springs street fair offers us as an event that is alive with fun, exotic snacks, gorgeous artwork, skilled handmade merchandise and live entertainment all day long.

The Yellow Springs street fair is biannual event. It’s always the second Saturday in June and the second Saturday in October. This street fair can be found on Xenia ave, Corey Street, South Walnut Street and Short Street. It runs from 9-5 but there are other events in the area that go on later.

Yellow Springs street fair did not always exist as it does today. Like many things that have come out of Dayton this event had to grow and develop over time.

“The Street Fair began about 35-40 years ago as a sidewalk sale for the merchants in town, that’s right, at one point it was not on the street at all,” said Holly Simpson, Marketing & Events Coordinator for Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce. This once sidewalk sale has since grown into a large street fair that covers at least four streets. It has become a tradition for the town. This street fair is important for the people as a celebration and as part of the local economy where it provides opportunity and exposure.

“In my eyes, there are two main goals for the Street Fairs,” Simpson said. “The first is support our local businesses, not just the downtown merchants, but the artists and the non-profits as well. The second which kind of goes hand in hand with the first, is that it is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Chamber of Commerce. This is important because the funds from Street Fair allow us to keep our membership fees low, (some of the lowest in the region) and provide us with a platform to showcase our little town.”

Anyone who has ever been to Yellow Springs has to have seen some of the fantastic local craftsman. It’s hard to ignore the immense talent presenting itself through these shops and booths.

“Many of our merchants got their start as Street Fair Vendors, and they still have booths today. Twisted Tines, Asanda and Urban Handmade all began as Street Fair vendors,” said Simpson.

This fair expands its reach beyond helping the local. There are many good causes that reach out to people through this fair.

“[This is a] great place for our local non-profits to get info out to the masses and to fundraise, for instance-in June the Children’s Center always has the ever popular Street Fair 5k in the morning,” Simpson said.
If you are planning to attend this Yellow Springs street fair you need to come prepared. To have the best experience possible you need a solid game plan and strategy. Do some stretches, wear flexible clothing and comfortable shoes. Yellow Springs offers one of the most popular and well varied street fairs in our area, so you better bring your A-game.

Yellow Springs Street Fair Survival Guide
First and Foremost, you’ve probably realized how totally awesome this street fair is, well, so have other people. The Yellow Springs street fair gets very crowded which can present some problems when you cover a four street area with only two parking lots.

Consider the weather. Look up the local forecast and dress appropriately. Sunblock or a raincoat could be the savior of your day, and sometimes you’ll need both, this is Ohio after all.
• Bring a water bottle no matter what the weather. Staying hydrated is key to surviving these long day events.
Arrive early. The street fair officially starts at 9a.m. and will continue to get more and more crowded throughout the day. Be the early bird and get first choice of the worms. With the artisans booths typically every piece is different so the coolest designs go first.

Take a shuttle. There are only two parking lots involved with the Yellow Springs street fair and they fill up fast. A lot of people park farther away and try to walk from the streets of local housing. You have to consider how much walking you’ll be doing throughout the day. By the time you finally head back to your car the journey will feel like a million mile trek. Take a shuttle and your feet will thank you. All shuttles are FREE.
• Greene Memorial and Soin Medical Center are providing shuttles.
• From Dayton follow the Shuttle parking signs on Dayton Yellow Springs Road, you can Park at YS high school and hop the shuttle from there.
• From Springfield/Columbus, you can park at Youngs Jersey Dairy and take that shuttle to the street fair. In addition to being a shuttle parking spot, Youngs always celebrates their cheddar festival during Street Fair.
See the early events first. Obviously not all events are going to be running all day long. There is a time and place for everything and even Yellow Springs street fair has a set schedule.
• 9:00 a.m. the 6th Annual Yellow Springs Street Fair 5K kicks off at the Antioch Amphitheater. Register by May 24, to guarantee your tie-dyed race day t-shirt. Race proceeds benefit the Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center Participation costs $25 through May 24, $30 therein. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. day of event. No age restrictions on participation.
• Young’s Jersey Cheddar Challenge 5k starts at 10am. Registration closes Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. It’s $27 for walking or running individuals, and $10 per child for the Running-Kids Dash. 8:00 a.m. is packet pick-up and race day registration. At 10:00 a.m. the scenic race starts. 10:45 a.m. the Kids Dash begins.

Start on Xenia Ave. This is the largest street of all those involved and it will end up being the most busy so best to hit it early.
• Check out the local vendors! There will be an estimated 400+ arts and crafts vendors. I’m a big fan of the paper parcels which are super cute and a popular way to avoid sunburn. You can also find paper fans to keep cool. There’s always handmade jewelry, bags, hats and clothes which will make you a different kind of cool.
• Caffeinate! With all this walking, shopping and fun you may begin to drain on energy. On Xenia Ave you will find several coffee shops. There is Wind’s Café and Dino’s Cappuccino’s which is right next to Emporiums Wine and Underdog Café.
• Check out some of the local stores. On Xenia Ave you will find Yellow Springs Pottery, Dark Star Books and comics, and more. With risk of overheating you may be grateful for a break of air-conditioning.

Enjoy some live entertainment and take a little break. The stage area is located right in the heart of all the action. It provides a nice soundtrack for the day.
• Seating is limited so take a blanket to sit on or some fold up chairs.
• There will be live acoustic music being performed in the center of the fair all day long.
• The Egyptian Breeze Belly Dancers take over the stage at noon and two.

Eat some food and replenish your batteries. The majority of food vendors can be found on S. Walnut Street which promises to overwhelm your nose with a bombardment of temptations.
• There will be over 35+ food vendors ranging from hot dogs to Thai wraps. I suggest keeping an eye out as you walk around for what sort of munchies most appeal to you and then take turns going out and getting food. There will be lines and there will be a lack of seating.
• Cool down with Italian ice, ice-cream or an old fashioned ice cold cola.
• You could always pack a lunch although you’d be seriously missing out.

Continue on to see all this fair has to offer. There is so much to see and do!
• Crazy Uncle Jesters Hot Sauce, Vintage Liz leatherwear, renowned ceramic artists such as Michael Jones and Geno Luketic will be returning favorites.
• New this year will be 240 Sweet out of Indianapolis who will be bringing their gourmet marshmallows.
• Sculptors Emporium will be doing sculpture demos all day.
• New Richmond Alpaca will have their Alpacas out for petting a picture opportunities.
• Relax and unwind a little when you get a chair massage from one of several at the event.
• Get some dinner from a local restaurant and enjoy a bit of air conditioning. Ha Ha Pizza is organic with a wide variety of toppings. Williams Eatery & Gathering place is very popular with locals. There will be a long wait for these so if you’d rather not wait just hit up your second favorite food vendor.

Stick around for the nightlife. Just because the vendors have all packed up doesn’t mean the fun has to stop.
The Street fair officially ends at five o’clock. Be sure to take the shuttle back to your car by 7 p.m. as it stops running after that. If you have kids drop them off with a sitter and come back to enjoy your evening.
• Beer Garden and Music festival will run from 12-7. This is an event which grows in popularity every year.
• There will be food trucks and carts adjacent to the beer garden.
• The creators of Flimsee will be in the beer garden, demoing their lawn game.
• Local bars such as Peaches and Ye Old Trail Tavern make for a fun way to unwind.

If you at least keep some of those tips in mind you’re sure to have a great experience at the Yellow Springs street fair. This is a fun town, even on a run of the mill Monday. With the street fair there is so much going on you may feel overwhelmed. Just figure out a few things you really want to see and do, then focus on having fun. Enjoy your street fair experience savor every flavor, smell and sound. Buy that really cool thing you want, see all the shows and pet that Alpaca. Enjoy it while it lasts because it’s 9-5 and only twice a year. Chances are, after this is over, you’ll find yourself waiting anxiously for the next street fair in October.

Yellow Springs Street Fair Saturday, June 8, 2013 9am- 5pm at Downtown Yellow Springs.

photograph by Josh Boone
photograph by Josh Boone
photograph by Josh Boone
photograph by Josh Boone
photograph by Josh Boone
photograph by Josh Boone
Photograph by Josh Boone
Photograph by Josh Boone
Photograph by Josh boone
Photograph by Josh boone