Tales from a Shopkeep: Bloomington’s Bicentennial

photo by Lisa Renee Wilson


Today the fam and I ventured into the wild (ok, downtown Bloomington) to visit the City’s Bicentennial Street Fair held on Kirkwood Ave between Walnut and Indiana, which, for those of you that aren’t familiar with organizing festivals (and wrangling cats) is a SUPER HUGE endeavor. It really is no small feat to close down that many streets, communicate with that many local businesses about shutting down said street, and then organize ACTIVITIES to happen up and down those blocks that you’re shutting down. I was in awe of it all – and actually – still, sitting her typing this up after having walked (and participated) nearly every booth (thank you my social 8 year old child for forcing me to do so) still am.

2We started our trek at the intersection of Walnut and Kirkwood (you know, just down the street from the shop) and we came across a mighty fine, and kind busker with a little rabbit friend, whom we’ve seen quite often – if not on this street corner, then at the Farmer’s Market. He asked Griffin to join in with him and play the tambourines, which, of course, he enjoyed. My boy Loves music, and is a performer at heart. It was a bit chilly as we started our walk down Kirkwood, the wind blowing a bit too much for my liking, but just as we started to get into the Festival, it seemed the sun came out to play and it was as if our hearts being warmed was enough to keep our bodies warm too!

4Griffin stopped and chatted at the Cardinal Stage Booth and daddy (tried to) taught him how to fire a bow and arrow for their promotion of Robin Hood. We watched from a distance as the Hudsucker Posse hooped and danced to music. We walked by and savored the delicious aromas from Farm and Uptown – reluctantly passing the Farm fries that were being served street-side. Soon enough we happened upon the Church activities where we sat down for a nice game of . . . mmm, not really sure what it’s called actually (and I didn’t get any photos because right about this moment I realized my camera battery was dying). The boys played this game (ok, so it’s like three poles that are parallel to one another, horizontally, and you try to throw this rope that has a ball tied to each end and wrap it around one of the poles). And then we moved on up to the Church yard and played a large game of Jenga. We do so Love Jenga. One of our former Gather artists, Joe Lee, was up there preparing for his Flea Circus, and so many other activities were happening as well.

About every 20 ft or so we’d run into another family, group, couple, or person we knew – so it was slow going for awhile. Griffin stopped at the Bloomington Montessori tents where his former preschool/kindergarten teacher taught him how to make a Focus Jar (lots of litle items in a ball jar, cover with sand, fill with water. Shake bottle, watch settle to calm down, focus, and/or meditate) and they also had a craft to make your own bag in which to hold 4 meditation stones. 8

The boys were all getting hungry at this point , and we have picky eaters, so unfortunately we by-passed all the awesome food trucks and went for Kirkwood restaurants instead. Which was still delicious. Afterward, we continued up Kirkwood to take part in some IU affiliated soccer and basketball activities (camera battery officially dead at this point) as well as posing with a giant blow-up football player, listening to DJ Maddog play in between sets of choral groups and symphonies performing on the main stage, getting ice cream at Hartzells, painting a little bit on a group ‘mural’ featuring an Ani Difranco quote, getting a white oak tree of our very own to take home and plant (today mama?! can we plant it today?!), playing a sink the biz/meatball game from new restaurant Osteria Ragu (Griffin REALLY wanted to win mama and daddy a free spaghetti dinner), and last, but not least, running into this . . . .

Griffin had been a PAIN to get out of the house today. He’s my boy, in ever way, and sometimes, we’re just homebodies. Today was one of those days for him. But, I forced the issue, and at the end of the day, we came home – after him showing off his tree that he got to about anyone that would listen – and he walked in the house and said, “Mama, I’m really glad we went today. Thank you for making me go. I had so much fun!” and that made every single thing worth it (even though it already was).

So, thank you Bloomington – thank you City of Bloomington, and thank you to each and every one of those small businesses out there who had a tent, a space, a table set up with an ACTIVITY to PARTICIPATE in. I think it’s so important that we get out there and DO something with each other, and that’s exactly what this was. We played games. We listened to music. We solved puzzles. We ate food. As a community, and it was amazing. I hope it doesn’t take another 200 years to have another!



I hope your days are filled up!!


photo by Lisa Renee Wilson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s