Sidewalk Days Returns to Downtown Duluth for Area’s Biggest Business Event

"It’s just really nice to get people back into the core of our community on to Superior Street," said Greater Downtown Council President Kristi Stokes.

DULUTH, Minn.– After not taking place in 2020, Sidewalk Days 2021 has the streets filled again.

“So this is kind of the first time we’re back our normal, spread-out type of sidewalk days. And then for our car show we spread it out even more for eight blocks,” said Greater Downtown Council President Kristi Stokes.

The greater downtown council’s sidewalk days, the area’s biggest shopping event of the year, saw a return of people, vendors and local businesses along superior street from Lake Avenue down to 5th Avenue West in Duluth’s downtown.

“It’s just really nice to get people back into the core of our community on to Superior Street,” said Stokes.

These same sidewalks were empty last year due to the pandemic, along with recent construction on Superior Street over the last handful of years making it tough for the area businesses. Now, those with the downtown council say it’s important to showcase all downtown Duluth has to offer.

“It’s just all about really community. Brining people out on to the streets and into our downtown. You get the sights, the smells, all of that fun stuff about just having a community spirit come alive,” said Stokes.

The recent worker shortage has limited some of the businesses for sidewalk days as vendors continued down the street, returning to its pre-construction format.

“During the past couple of years, we had to really modify that because of the reconstruction,” said Stokes.

Walking through downtown Wednesday, Meghan Talbot was says it’s a tradition to bring her family to the festival. As someone who works in the US Bank building downtown, she wanted to support local establishments.

“Last year, it was a very strange vibe down here not having anything going on so we missed the sidewalk sale,” said Meghan Talbot, who was there with her sons Isaac and Aiden. “so year it’s fun to have them back and get back to normal and be able to get out and enjoy the sidewalk sale.”

Windy conditions early on saw a slower start but it picked up as the day went on with more people going to shops like Ed Barbo’s Columbia Clothing.

“If they come downtown once a year it’s for sidewalk days,” said owner Ed Barbo, who’s been with the store for 50 years.

One of downtown’s oldest stores is celebrating its 106th anniversary. Barbo is glad everything come together for a return in 2021.

“It feels great,” he said. “It’s been almost four years of construction and then with the pandemic this last year, things got tough for a while. Especially when we were shut down by the government. It’s really great to be out here.”

In the afternoon, classic cars rolled in for the festival’s annual car show. As muscle cars from around the northland and beyond cruised along Superior Street.

Sidewalk Days will continue until Friday.

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