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Yellow Springs Street Fair—An extraordinary day in an Ohio small town
On an ordinary day in Yellow Springs you might see some locals going about their business buying fresh at Tom's Market, or looking for a specific piece of organic, handmade art or clothing at one of the artisan shops. Some people from out of town might have come in to eat at one of the downtown restaurants, listen to a band at Peach's or have a drink at the local tavern.
It would be fairly normal to see a street musician or two, to run into a group of Antioch college students talking about the world, or to see hikers coming out of Glen Helen Nature Preserve. Dreadlocks, change-the-world car decals, and open political activists are some of the things that sprinkle Yellow Springs with personality. This quaint little Ohio village has an old feel of community and a forward-thinking feel of environmental consciousness.
On street fair day, however, you can take what you might not normally see in an every day Ohio small town, multiply that by one million, and that is the best way I can describe the Yellow Springs Street Fair.
The town was built with a utopia in mind. What it evolved into includes a colorful collection of residents, shops, and store owners who add to the community their own particular tastes and talents. You can find groceries, clothing,handmade soaps and skin products, jewelry, music, pottery, books, and more, all within walking distance of each other. It is common to see cyclists, and pedestrians have the right of way.
We drove into town this past Saturday on Route 68, past Young's Dairy, which had a crowd of its own. You could catch a shuttle ride from Young's to the street fair. When we emerged through the fields toward downtown, I couldn't believe my eyes. I hadn't been to the street fair in over ten years, and it had exponentially grown. Lines and lines of cars were parked along the shoulder on both sides of the street.
Groups of people of all ages walked toward the festivities. Two separate visitors with hot pink hair, piercings and tattoos gave evidence to support the reason the street fair was voted “Best Place to People Watch in 2011” by Ohio Magazine.
We drove through past the fair,bubbling with activity, to the other side of town where we found a parking spot a mile out, next to Glen Helen Nature preserve. At 93 degrees around noon, the walk was hot but pleasant. Some cyclists came from behind on the concrete trail and nicely informed us of their passing. With so much to see and do, we didn't know where to start.
Food venders, artists, clothing booths, photographers, martial artists, massage therapists, jewelry makers,outdoor garden handicrafts, candles, incense, handbags—there wasn't any type of booth there that I couldn't think of. Before the day wasover Bryan had drunk 2 fresh lemon shake-ups. We had barbecue on the shaded lawn for lunch as a group of belly dancers drew a crowd for their performance. Under a shaded tree, a boy played a set of xylophone bells; later when I went back to take his picture, a different group of musicians had taken his place, with a djembe drum and a ukelele.
There were over 250 vendors, and 65 shops and food places. You could grab a bite, from bourbon chicken, to fried fair food, to Brazilian cuisine to Lebanese food. For dessert you could get ice cream, Italian ice, candied nuts, and smoothies. We meandered through an eclectic crowd and browsed the items for sale.
Lots of smiling faces mixed with random happenings. Outside of the coffee shop we came across a table with a group of people sitting around it, chatting. The sign said: “Hangout with hippies, $1.” The local galleries and shops were open for exploring. On one side of the fair, by the old train station, live music blared from a stage. Peach's Grille was packed with diners. We never did make it to the “beer gardens” but we'll be sure to look for it in October.
The street fair had plenty to see for all ages and all likes. We regretted not getting there earlier before the blaring mid-day heat, and we had to leave before evening settled in. But as we were leaving, cars continued to line-up on the streets, destination Yellow Springs.
The Yellow Springs Street Fair is held twice a year, once in early summer, and once in the fall. For more information and upcoming times and dates, visit www.destinationyellowsprings.com.
For more information about the author, Whitney Bell, please visit their profile page.
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Re: New Weeknight Specials at Greenfire Bistro
Great article. We love this place. The owners and staff are very friendly and the food is always good...