It may have been several years since Marietta resident Vivian Needs made the trip downtown for a Merchants and Artists Walk, but with her granddaughter in from South Carolina and a beautiful spring evening there was no better time to break the trend than Friday.
"It's a nice little walk with crowds of people," Needs said. "I thought it would be a good experience for her (granddaughter)."
Tugging her young granddaughter, Allison, around, Needs was one of several hundred area residents to head downtown for the kickoff to the summer season with the Merchants and Artists Walk.
Clown performs with balloons during Merchants and Artists Walk
More than 40 different artists joined with 40 downtown businesses for the summertime event, which showcases local talent with the fares of area merchants.
"The streets are packed," said Tammy Wilson, coordinator for the Merchants and Artists Walk. "That's what we want to see, people out walking, visiting and having a good time."
The annual festivals have become a popular draw for downtown, as area residents take time to reconnect with old friends after the winter season.
KEVIN PIERSON The Marietta Times
Jeffrey Stemen, of Draw me a Story, draws a caricature of a pair of teenagers during the first Merchants and Artists Walk of the year in Marietta Friday evening.
"I just like to get out, see people that I know," said Bill Jahn, 59, of Marietta. "I've run into several people I haven't seen for a while and some I saw yesterday."
Friday evening was the first ever Merchants and Artists Walk for Parkersburg artist Sarah Rollyson, who creates primitive signs and furniture from woodwork, ideally old barn siding, as part of her business, Behind the Barn.
One night was all it took to get her hooked.
Saturday's schedule of events downtown
9 to 11 a.m. - Motorcycle and Auto Tour.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Grounds open; Marietta-Washington County CVB Scavenger Hunt.
2:30 to 4:30 p.m. - People's Choice Awards and Tasting.
5 to 6 p.m. - Awards ceremony.
ColonyFest Kid's Zone
When: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Putnam Street between Third and Second streets.
Details: Inflatables, magicians, musicians, face painting and more; tours of the Colony Theatre will be at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.
1 p.m. - Children's Cello and Violin Ensemble.
2 p.m. - High Schools That Rock.
2:40 p.m. - Magician Steve Dixon (photo above).
3 p.m. - Juggler Bob Whitcomb, World's Strongest Juggler.
4 p.m. - Children's Folk Songs with Todd Burge.
5 p.m. - Stacy's Dance Studio.
The next Merchants and Artists Walk
When: Friday, July 13
Where: Downtown Marietta
What: The second Merchants and Artists Walk of the year featuring downtown merchants and area artists
"I didn't know what to expect, but it's been really good," Rollyson said.
Rollyson made several signs during the Walk, giving residents a chance to see her work and possibly make a few sales.
The challenge for her wasn't meeting customers, but rather in not leaving Marietta with her arms full of new purchases.
"It's awesome. I want to buy everything," Rollyson laughed.
Dave and Connie Grimes, of Marietta, made the trip downtown to enjoy dinner Friday evening at Tiber Way Grille, and then visit all the merchants and artists.
"We're out enjoying downtown Marietta," Dave said.
With Friday the first of the monthly Merchants and Artists Walks, the couple said they weren't a bit surprised to see the hundreds of people crowding the street, and felt it was a boon to the downtown economy.
"I think people look forward to it for the summer," Connie said. "It's great for downtown."
The second Merchants and Artists Walk of the summer will take place July 13 in Marietta.