Shepherdstown Street Fest has community feeling

June 30, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — On the street, in front of the bluesy rock band, a young, barefoot hippie danced a rhythmic flail beside a middle-aged guy with a Washington Redskins jersey and a decidedly more sedated groove.

Both were, by all appearances, lost in the music and vibe of Shepherdstown Street Fest.

Herb peddlers, potters, jewelry designers, environmental groups and more lined two blocks of German Street, embodying the college town’s bookish bohemian feel.

Jason Smith, 37, of Martinsburg, W.Va., stood watching a musical performance by Moondog Medicine Show with his friend, Shannon Smiles, 31, also of Martinsburg. Smith said he grew up in Frederick, Md., and the festival reminded him of the of that town’s In the Street event.

“Only this has a smaller, more hometown feel,” he said.

Lori Robertson, president of Shepherdstown Street Fest, said last year the event drew a crowd of about 6,000 people.

The group of organizers, which has nonprofit status, likes to draw attention to the town’s businesses and its talented and caring people, Robertson said.

“This is such a great town. We love it, and that’s why we hold the festival,” she said.

Nine bands were scheduled to play on two stages throughout the day, alternating between regional and local acts.

This was the first time in the festival’s seven-year history that vendor booths sold out.

Robertson said she hoped Friday night’s storms and resulting damage in the local area would not put a damper on attendance. The festival ran from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. During midafternoon, she said the street was “quite busy” and seemed to be picking up even further.

“Shepherdstown is a late crowd. These guys like to come out and party,” she said.

Kate Salvas of Shepherdstown strolled down the road in a large, floppy-brimmed hat she had purchased at the event.

“This is a nice festival. No traffic. A lot of good vendors,” she said, showing off two colorful bags she had bought as well.

Claire Lillard, 11, of Shepherdstown zealously hula-hooped in front of One Two Kangaroo Toy Store with her friend, Tabitha Spanaugle, 10. The two said the kettle corn at the festival was “amazing.” Tabitha said the event was “family-friendly” and the people were “really pretty nice.”

“Not these crazy people, running around,” Claire added.

Kathleen Miller, 24, of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., paraded the street with a young girl made-up and dressed as a fairy. Miller was offering fairy character makeup artistry with Full Circle Theater Company’s vendor booth.

“I love the community feel here,” Miller said. “I grew up in a small town, and there was nothing like this.”

Street fest organizers joined Shepherdstown in a yearlong 250th birthday celebration. Bands led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” twice during the event.

Robertson said some proceeds from the event will be donated to the Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic. The group also plans to purchase wheelchairs for the Shepherdstown Visitors Center.

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