Friday, July 26th, 2013
Vendors, store owners skeptical of new festival site
By Shelley Grieshop
Carl Stone hangs wares in the "Funky Fidoras" stand near Lakeshore Drive in Celi. . .
CELINA - The sights and smells of vendors that previously filled the downtown area during the annual Celina Lake Festival were replaced with normal traffic along Main Street this morning.
For the first time in festival history, all vendors were moved to Lake Shore Park near Grand Lake where nearly all activities will take place this weekend.
"I kind of like the trees and the shade but that might change once the sun pops out," said Bailey Worthington of Waynesfield, who was setting out colorful sand and candy art along the winding sidewalk at the park.
Worthington and his wife, Maxine, sold their goods downtown for 16 years before moving lakeside this year with everyone else.
"We used to have good luck (downtown) but once they started having vendors down here, it made it difficult for us," he said. "Last year we didn't even break even."
Dylan Correll, a member of the Lake Festival steering committee, said the number of vendors was "way down" in the closed-off area of downtown last year. About 30 more spaces were created along the lake this year to accommodate the former downtown vendors, he said.
About 70 crafters and 25 food vendors will greet festival patrons this year - about the same as last year, Correll said. He admitted to some initial "growing pains" this morning trying to please everyone.
"But I think everybody's OK now," he said. "I think this is going to be a positive move."
Kiki Leggett of Somerset told the newspaper she thinks relocating her "Funky Fidoras" stand to the lake could be more profitable.
"Water attracts people," she said, adding she was a downtown vendor the last three years. "I think we'll enjoy being by the lake where all the activities are."
Although no vendors straddled Main Street or side streets this morning, the area certainly wasn't a ghost town. Shoppers cruised the sidewalks, checking out items under outdoor tents and inside stores.
Kim Nation, owner of The Potter House on Main Street and Java Nation, said she isn't happy about the change but is taking a "positive outlook for now."
"After the sales are over we'll see if it's a positive or a negative," she said.
Nation said this weekend is crucial to downtown merchants who need the strong sales to help them through slower times during the year. She doesn't think the change is in the best interest of local businesses.
"We should be promoting and helping our town, not just focusing on an event," she said.