By Dan Pool, Editor
If you haven’t been to downtown Jasper recently, you may be surprised how the town is bustling. It seems more often than not there are plenty of cars parked along Main Street in the evenings and people on the streets all day.
As several locals have observed, the patrons downtown include many (maybe mostly) new faces and small groups who have somehow found their way to our restaurants, wine bar and candy and coffee shops.
I am always curious about how the people downtown arrived here. Possibly new homeowners as part of the crowd buying small farm/estate lots or maybe from the gated communities? I met a couple walking on Main Street recently looking for somewhere to eat and asked where they had come from. They turned out to be pure tourists. The younger couple saw a listing on Airbnb and decided to give Jasper a try. They liked it.
One question they had, for which there was no good answer, at 9 p.m. on a weeknight, what are the food options? Is there enough later evening business to justify places staying open later? That would be up for the business owners to decide but I can tell you at least two people were looking recently.
This energy throughout downtown is encouraging for the businesses investing in our community. It is good to see there are people who will come out, but also a little concerning – what if it the growth is more than we can handle?
Despite complaints by those opposed to walking a block or two, parking is not even close to being an issue at this time. You will walk less to the front door of any place in town than you will to shop at a big box retailer.
We are now in the spring event period. Much like the blackberry blossoms, events pop up everywhere – in this week’s paper you can find information on a Kids Fishing Rodeo (Saturday); and Jasper’s Second Saturday event series (next week). Not to mention a real rodeo in Marble Hill.
We’d like to invite/encourage our community, especially the locals who had years ago given up on Pickens County as a fun place for an outing, to try any of the events. They are either free or low cost and don’t require driving too far.
The events provide a chance to connect with fellow members of this community – maybe see people you haven’t seen in a while.
A couple of particular notes: the Sportsmen’s Club is working hard to revive the Kids Fishing Days which for decades let many young anglers catch a trout with the assistance of DNR personnel and experienced anglers. City hall crews have already whipped the creek area on Cove Road into shape and volunteers are working to get everything else set. At its height this event included days for the elderly and for the disabled. This is an event the entire community should be proud of. Simply having it here makes us all look good. We wish all the anglers luck landing a trout and the organizers a smooth event.
The rodeo in Marble Hill is run by a small family-owned operation and, in addition to excitement, is committed to providing a low-cost outing for people to get outside and enjoy some honest to goodness real entertainment, not requiring any cell phone or app.
Finally, kudos to the city of Jasper and their Downtown Development Authority for moving ahead with the Second Saturday series. Running once a month all summer, this is a tremendous effort to bring people to downtown businesses and provide a free chance to socialize in our community. As you read the article on this event (See People Page), please note how the organizers say they recognize they may need to make adjustments after the first one. They want to please people. We ask you to support their work by coming out and being understanding that this is the first time in years the city has put on downtown concerts.
It’s great to see our small town bustling. Event organizers are working hard, let’s see that their work is supported.