Merchants, artists again

By Amanda Nicholson

The Marietta Times

anicholson@mariettatimes.com

The first Merchants and Artist Walk of the year kicked off Friday night, with many braving the rain and wind to sample local wares from shops and creators.

Jeanette McKenna, owner of Unique Jewelry, said she enjoys making things for the downtown Marietta event.

“I’m a jewelry artisan,” she said. “I take a lot of time making things for the Merchant and Artist Walks. I enjoy it so much; I get to meet a lot of nice people.”

McKenna said the weather put a damper on traffic Friday.

“There’s a lot of people, but they seem focused on staying dry,” she said. “The traffic is getting better as the evening moves on.”

McKenna’s partner, Scott Bookman, had a sample of wares included photography and jewelry.

“I have photography and bracelets and necklaces made out of metal and leather,” he said. “It’s a lot of repurposed materials.”

Though the evening was a little soggy, McKenna said she and Bookman were having fun.

“Even though it’s a little wet and the rain was pouring, we’re still having a good time,” she said.

Jackie Hlubb, 64, of Lowell, and her sister Janet Mason, 65, of Newark, Del. decided to go downtown for a fun night despite the weather.

Mason was very excited to be in the area when the walk was being held, she said.

“I heard it on the radio,” she said.

Hlubb said that she asked her sister if she wanted to go.

“I thought she’d say no,” Hlubb remarked. “We thought we’d come out and brave the weather. I hardly ever get downtown and (the walk) brought me downtown.”

Mason said an event like the artist walk is a good thing for the area.

“This is a nice invitation for people to come see things,” she said.

D-Whittling’s Wood Carving owner David Ferguson was stationed across from Twisted Sister, using his chainsaw to carve an owl. He has appeared at the Merchant and Artist Walk for the last five years.

Though his shop is in Parkersburg, Ferguson said he likes coming to Marietta.

“(I come) to help the community out, to bring more attention to downtown Marietta,” he said.

He started carving in 1991, but picked up the chainsaw in 1992.

“They’re very unforgiving machines and tools,” he said. “The idea is to be able to work tomorrow.”

Ferguson is teaching his craft to apprentice Corey Clegg.

“When you first start out, it’s pretty difficult,” Ferguson said. “You have to teach yourself to see it in the round. If you can get the profile in, you’ve got it pretty well made.”

Cat Bigley, owner of SWAGG, said though the weather has impacted some people coming out, waves of shoppers were hitting the store.

“(The weather) definitely slowed the crowd down, but I don’t think it’s slowed sales down,” she said. “I think we’ll have waves of business as the restaurants clear and people get done with dinner.”

Debbie Eddy, of Wheeling, W.Va. was in town after visiting her mother and decided to stay for the walk.

“I think it builds community and it is a great developing asset for tourism,” she said. “The town is a nice, quaint, welcoming town. It’s friendly and alive, like little towns used to be.”

Likewise, owners of the Gallery, Karen Vancamp and Glenn Newman, said the feeling of community during the walk is tremendous.

“I think the greatest thing is it’s a feeling of community,” Newman said. “And people see people they haven’t seen since, well the winter. It’s a ‘Hey, you made it!’ They see someone and they chit chat. It’s the feeling of small town community; that’s really what it’s all about.”