Come for the invigorating crispness of the late summer-early autumn air, the chance to congregate on the freshly paved asphalt of Chestnut Street and the community spirit of an open air market — stay for the geode cracking, the pint-sized caricaturists and the plaster face casting.
The final Second Saturday Community Market of the season kicks off a Saturday full of activity for downtown Meadville at 9 a.m. The market, which takes over Chestnut Street between Park Avenue and Mulberry Street, will be followed by more Chestnut Street foot traffic when the annual Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce Wine and Brew Walk takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. The day culminates in a dance party at the Mill Run parking lot from 7 to 10 p.m., the final Second Saturday Night Live concert of the year.
For Michael Mehler, president of the board that oversees the community market, the day’s first event is all about the friendly atmosphere.
“I just walk the whole thing. That’s what I look forward to — seeing lots of familiar faces,” Mehler said. “To see that sense of community is what I look forward to the most.”
As Mehler and others walk from one end of the row of open shops and vendors’ booths, they’ll encounter a wide variety of experiences, according to Market Director Heather Fish. The fun includes set-ups for 28 artists, several of them new to the market, and seven nonprofits, as well as a waffle-making food truck and sweet and salty treats from multiple downtown bakeries.
“For a lot of people, this could be our last chance of the season to access some of these vendors,” Fish said. “It has been a really great season so far and I am happy that so many people choose to keep their money and talent local.”
The talents on display will be varied. Youngsters from a nearby private school will raise money by drawing quick caricatures for donations. Artists from the Meadville Council on the Arts, located upstairs in the Market House, will make plaster face castings of anyone willing to sit for one — $5 donations are recommended.
The MCA tent at the corner of Market and Chestnut streets will also offer an art opportunity for kids of all ages organized by The Meadville Tribune. Artworks created Saturday will be featured at meadvilletribune.com and will be displayed on the walls of MCA's Market House hallway.
This will be the second time the Tribune has partnered with MCA. The previous exhibit, themed around the Crawford County Fair, may currently be viewed on an MCA hallway wall. This time, artists are invited to create works focused on the Meadville Halloween Parade.
Other options are too varied to mention, from kids activities to unique handmade crafts.
And Mehler likely isn’t the only one who already has a particular destination in mind.
“I have three kids,” he said, “so Magic Steve is always a highlight.”
The event also features three sets of live music beginning at 9 and 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Fred Oakman and the Flood will be the final performers of the day and will bring their brand of alternative country to the street festival for the first time.
“The sense of community — it’s nice to be a part of it,” Meadville resident Oakman said. “Being out and being a part of it and making some music for everyone — I think it’ll be a great time.”
After the market wraps up, the Wine and Brew Walk takes over Chestnut Street from the Downtown Mall to the far corner of Diamond Park. Along the way, 25 stops will offer samples of wine, beer and spirits from 25 Pennsylvania-based wineries, breweries and distilleries.
For those who fill up on the satisfying but nutritionally empty calories available on the intoxicating walk up Chestnut Street, the Meadville Neighborhood Center has you covered — in the form of a DJ dance party to mark the summer’s end at Mill Run parking lot. Mulled cider and fresh donuts will be available for sale to those who need them after a long day of fun.
“Bring your chair and get ready to get out of it,” said the MNC’s George Stabile.
No matter your particular groove, DJ Chris Polk is prepared to get you on your feet, according to Stabile.
From lovers of hip hop to old school swingers, Stabile said, “He is prepared to get them dancing.”
The coincidental convergence of events is enough to provoke one to wonder: Would it be possible to spend the entire day within a radius of just a few blocks from the intersection of Chestnut and Market streets, enjoying first the community market then, after a short break for a late lunch, the Wine and Brew Walk and finally the dance party at the Mill Run parking lot?
There’s only one way to know for sure.
Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.