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Main Street Morgantown Arts Walk returning to downtown area

Main Street Morgantown’s Arts Walk is returning to downtown for the first time since the start of COVID-19.

“It does encourage community and it encourages folks to come out and support the businesses, whether it be retail or a restaurant,” said Stephanie Swaim, owner of Hoot and Howl and promotions committee chair for Main Street Morgantown.

The first Arts Walk is scheduled for 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. April 10. Following the April event, Main Street Morgantown plans to continue hosting Arts Walks once per month. 

The event plans to host local artists and musicians, as well as retail shops and restaurants in the area. River Fair Trade is one of many local businesses planning to have their doors open to the public during the event.

Rudee Blum sells her jewelry outside of TK’s Produce during a previous Arts Walk.

Shannon Dowling, owner of River Fair Trade, said she is most looking forward to the opportunity to engage with the local community again.

“Everybody has been closed in for so long and there hasn’t been anything to do,” Dowling said. “I think this is a great opportunity to be together downtown.”

Marinea Heindel, owner of Insect Mother, plans to set up shop during the event. She sells copper electroformed jewelry and oddity domes that feature humanely sourced insects and bones.

“I sell a lot of my work online, but there’s something special about selling handmade products to people in person that makes it so much more fun,” Heindel said.

Heindel has attended four or five Arts Walks in the past, and said she is excited to meet new people as well as see familiar faces.

The last Arts Walk the organization was able to hold was in February 2020. Barbara Watkins, executive director of Main Street Morgantown, said as restrictions continue to be lifted it has become more doable to safely host artists in an outdoor setting. 

Typically, the Arts Walk is held in the evenings, with artists hosted inside local businesses. To ensure social distancing is maintained, artists will set up stands outdoors during the daytime. 

Although the Arts Walk event will look a little different, Dowling said the new setup is a great way to incorporate even more artists with the additional outdoor space.

Watkins said Monongalia County is home to many talented artists, many of whom do not have brick-and-mortar stores to sell their products. The Arts Walk provides an opportunity for those artists to get their work out to the public.

“This is how [artists] display what they are making,” Watkins said. “This is great for them, it helps the community and it helps the businesses downtown, so it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Eighteen artists are registered to participate in the event, but Watkins said Main Street Morgantown expects to receive more applications as the date approaches. The event also hopes to have live music set up in the Courthouse Square, and any musicians interested in playing are encouraged to submit an application.

“We’ve been closed down for so long that I think it is nice that we can get back out and start to enjoy what we have to offer and what’s out there,” Watkins said.

Artists interested in registering for the event or those looking for more information can visit Main Street Morgantown’s Facebook page.

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