Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 9, 2002
Festival prepares for 32nd year
By Megan Lavey / Selma Times – Journal
Elise Blackwell sits in the kitchen of her house deep in the heart of Selma doing one of the things she is best known for &045;&045; preparing for the 32nd annual Riverfront Market Day.
Blackwell says it’s not unusual for people to wait until the last minute. This is why getting a booth at Market Day is very flexible. Although it is better to reserve a booth early, Blackwell has learned from experience to keep some available Saturday morning for those who show up at the last second wanting a spot.
They will either be placed at the end of the line of booths stretching down Water Avenue from Broad Street to the Old Depot Museum or will be eligible to fill in an empty spot if someone does not show up to claim a booth.
People who reserved booths have until 8 a.m. Saturday morning to set them up. After that, they become eligible to be resold.
For those who do decide to participate in Market Day, they will find an eager audience that has reached up to 40,000 at times. Normally, when every booth is sold, Blackwell said, there are around 400 vendors that line both sides and the middle of Water Avenue.
But there are not 400 venders this year. Around 275 booths have been sold so far, a sharp contrast to the full house that normally takes place.
The reasons for the slowdown are numerous. The economy is a factor, along with the reservations many still attach to traveling after Sept. 11. There is also heavy competition with several arts and crafts festivals going on around the state, including the Kentuck Festival in Northport next weekend.
The advantage that Market Day has over Kentuck is that many of the crafts sold in Northport are targeted at a much wealthier audience.
Homemade crafts go over very well in Selma. &uot;The venders that have less expensive things did well,&uot; Blackwell said.
Another reason is due to country crafts not being as popular as they once were, Blackwell said.
Many of those who do come have told Blackwell it is the best arts and crafts show they have ever been to.
It’s not too late. Those who want to get a booth at Market Day can contact Blackwell at home at 334-874-8044 to set up a reservation.
Booths are $40 and food vendors are $75. Food vendors must comply with Dallas County health standards. Electrical plugs are $25 per plug.