It's impossible to forget the dates of downtown Blacksburg's annual summer street fair, Steppin' Out, mostly because it is never the same two calendar dates in any two consecutive years. Like Mother's Day or Labor Day, Steppin' Out, isn't a date at all, it's a day (actually two) -- the first Friday and Saturday of August, rain or shine. I've stepped out almost every year since I arrived in Blacksburg in 1984. Bartending my way through grad school, I worked a food booth a few of those years, hot, thankless work, and greasy -- the bar I worked for (the Ton-80 Club) sold fresh grilled polish sausage, hamburgers, and pulled pork sandwiches in a booth on College Avenue. By 1:00 p.m. the asphalt around the grill was so slick I could slide between the cooking area, the coolers, and the cash box. Good times...
Over the years, I've shopped my way through a fair few of them, and partied. As an undergrad I had friends whose apartment in the Old Mill Building overlooked College Avenue. In those days, the main stage was situated on College Avenue at the end of Draper Road. There's a performing arts theater there now, which I think is cool symmetry. Anyway, back then, my friends' apartment (two friends lived in the same apartment at two times, one "bequeathing" it to the other upon graduation) overlooked the main stage, so they would throw a kegger (part of the bequest included strict directives to carry on this tradition...a detail we friends appreciated). Those in the know would come prepared with Big Gulp cups that we bought at the 7-11 on the corner of Draper Road and Roanoke Street, which we emptied and reloaded with ice cold draft beer. Lids on, straws in, we'd hit the streets. There were always more friends to run into, recent grads needing one more Blacksburg fix, old acquaintances... Good times...
Much has changed in downtown Blacksburg since those days. The Ton-80 Club is gone (but the sign is still there). Festival organizers moved the main stage to the middle of Main Street, which has a certain logic, but screws the tenants of that particular apartment in the Old Mill Building out of a prime window seat for all the best bands. College Avenue has been transformed from a narrow two-way street into a one-way "promenade" with trees where the double yellow line used to run.
So today, and this is a first, I photographed my way through Steppin' Out. This post is actually more loquacious than I intended; the pictures follow. Of the #52Weeks, this one goes out to all the friends I have made in all my years in Blacksburg, past, present, and future (I'm looking at you Mary Allison...). Let's go Steppin' Out, just like we always did (do...will...) I'll show you what's new.
|Steppin' Out now begins all the way back here on Lee Street. (I'm standing on Draper Road)|
|This completely hoses that old 7-11 out of vehicular traffic for the weekend.|
|Bouncy House resembles the Clemson Tiger. Jump, children of Blacksburg, jump!|
|Very cool art. I can't help but wonder if young mens ties would make a good medium as well.|
|Because.. well ...Virginia.|
|I have always loved a standing bass...toe-tapping good.|
|First time I've seen this at Steppin' Out.|
And all this too...