Second Saturday an opportunity to reconnect businesses with the public
BLACK MOUNTAIN - Sakshi Gantenbein says that he has missed seeing the smiles of customers.
During Black Mountain’s Second Saturday event, a replacement for the canceled Sourwood Festival, the town planned for socially distanced activities that would help local businesses recover lost revenue.
For Gantenbein, the interactions between vendors and the public have been missed the most.
“What I miss the most here, which may sound ridiculous, but it's to see people smile,” Gantenbein said. “You know, with this piece of cloth, and yet you can't see it by that.”
Gantenbein motioned his hands around his face, noting that he has been focusing on people’s eyes to see how they react.
Events planned for the day included the town’s weekly tailgate market, an early morning pottery show, live in-person and virtual concerts and various displays or exhibits from stores and museums.
Though the Sourwood Festival featured live music, amusement rides and local vendors throughout downtown, Second Saturday focused on the public’s interaction with local businesses while spreading traffic downtown.
The town also had a roaming violinist and guitarist walk the streets playing music in and out of stores.
Violinist Madelyn Ilana said that people were thankful for her music.
“It’s been really sweet,” Ilana said. “People seem very grateful. I'm getting a lot of thank you’s. A lot of people saying ‘great idea, thanks for stopping in.’”
Ilana added that while some people believed that she had been playing on her own accord, the Asheville-based musician felt confident in returning to downtown to continue improvising on her violin.
Along with a guitarist and violinist, local band Davis & The Wild held an in-person concert.
Complemented by wandering music and specials held by businesses, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center set up an outside display.
In addition to its sidewalk exhibit, which celebrated 100 years of women’s suffrage and the life of Lillian Exum Clement, the museum also held a raffle, a table on how to make whirlygigs and a display on local pollinators.
“Today's been great,” said assistant director Saro Lynch-Thomason. “We've had a lot of people visiting on the street and enjoying our retail, and it's been really great to just interact with the public when we haven't been able to this year.”
Clement is recognized as the first woman elected to the state’s General Assembly as well as the first to serve in any Southern state legislature.
The town finished its event with a virtual concert held at the White Horse Black Mountain.
Prior to the Sourwood Festival’s June 25 cancellation, it averaged an attendance of 30,000 for its 200-plus vendors and amusement-park style rides. Lost revenue from the event was estimated at $30,000.
The cancellation followed an earlier Phase 2 extension by Gov. Roy Cooper for the state’s Stay at Home order, prohibiting gatherings of more than 25 people in an outdoor space.