Art at the Market, Steppin' Out 2020 canceled

Published: May. 22, 2020 at 3:24 PM EDT
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Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. has announced the cancellation of Art at the Market and Steppin' Out 2020.

Steppin' Out is a summertime favorite that draws thousands of folks to Downtown Blacksburg, but now, due to concerns of COVID-19, it will be canceled for the first time on its 40th anniversary.

“We just knew we couldn’t do it safely, and that was the biggest thing," said Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. Executive Director Casey Jenkins. "It really was heartbreaking to make that decision."

“I wasn’t surprised, I was pretty much expecting it," said Sinking Creek Pottery co-owner Zenah Orndorff. "As much as anything it was just kind of waiting for the official notice. I would have been more surprised if they were holding it.”

Orndorff said Steppin' Out is where they see their biggest sales.

“We fortunately don’t rely on this business for our livelihood, but it is a business and it will definitely have some impact," Orndorff said.

But, it's a bigger impact for the owner of Fringe Benefit, a boutique retail shop that’s been a staple downtown nearly 50 years. WDBJ7 spoke to owner Nancyne Willoughby off camera; she said the festival brings in money at a much-needed time when sales are slow. She’s not sure how she will get by with the big events getting canceled.

“We will do whatever we can to make up for that, knowing that there’s really no way to replace Steppin’ Out in Blacksburg," Jenkins said.

DBI is looking at a possible online platform to help everyone pivot through this difficult time.

“We will make sure that we are back stronger than ever for Steppin’ Out and all of our summer events for next year 2021," Jenkins said. “Coming together is really what this community is really about. It always has been and we’re seeing that now more than ever."

DBI said all vendors who have submitted payment will be refunded. Steppin' Out vendors may elect to transfer their vendor fees to 2021.

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