SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Despite COVID-19 and some gloomy weather, the 57th annual Washington Pavilion Sidewalk Arts Festival still lined streets in downtown Sioux Falls Saturday.
Chilly weather and a little bit of rain certainly didn’t stop people from coming to downtown Sioux Falls to walk through the Sidewalk Arts Festival.
“I haven’t been to any arts festivals in a long time, so that’s one reason, but also my favorite wood carver was here today from Omaha. And I always come and buy something from him and my sister buys my birthday present here from him too. So it’s a win win all the way around,” Deb Wallenberg of Sioux Falls said.
And this year, because of the pandemic, organizers dedicated a special hour for high-risk people to shop before the festival opened to the general public.
“But to be honest, I usually come at 8 anyways, so. Because there’s hardly any people here so it’s not so crowded. So then by the time it gets crowded, I’m on my way home,” Wallenberg said.
People that did venture outside for the festival today got to see more vendors than ever before. Washington Pavilion CEO Darrin Smith says with almost 300 vendors, they hit a new record this year.
“For many of them, this is their livelihood. This is how they make a living. For others, it’s a supplement to their income. Of course, even more important, it’s a passion of theirs to create things and in many cases this is the only event they’ve been able to be at all summer,” Smith said.
Alissa Bretsch just started her business of making polymer clay jewelry in March, so the festival allowed her to set up a ‘Tint & Clay’ booth for the first time.
“It feels good to kind of get my name out in the community,” Bretsch said.
Bretsch sells her jewelry online, but she says it’s nice to make those in-person sales as well.
“Rain or shine, we’re out here and you get the booth and you really just hope that people can still come see your stuff,” Bretsch said.
The vendors aren’t the only ones in need of some extra financial help this year. After having to cancel its Broadway performance series for this year, the festival will be a beneficial fundraiser for the Washington Pavilion, too.
“This will be a real bright spot for us in a year that, you know, needed some more bright spots,” Smith said.
The festival was open to the general public from 9 to 5 today with the special hour for high-risk shoppers starting at 8 a.m.