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CJ Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band (photo by Nancy Love)

What’s New in Louisville

By Lisa Truesdale

As last summer came to a close, it looked as though Louisville’s most popular summer event—the Downtown Street Faire—would also be coming to a close … permanently.

It seems the almost-weekly event had gotten a little too popular, says Mark Zaremba, president of the Louisville Downtown Business Association, which hosts the fair with help from the city.

“Each season, we had one big, nationally known musical act [like Nitty Gritty Dirt Band] that drew 10,000 people, and that didn’t allow us to provide all of our visitors with the good experience they deserve,” he says. The huge crowds made “too big of an impact,” with not enough room to comfortably allow beer- and wine-garden visitors to mingle, and with residents of the surrounding neighborhoods unhappy with all the traffic.

During city council sessions in the fall, though, the DBA learned that the Street Faire still had broad support from Louisville residents, so they decided it should stay, though a few key changes were in order. “We began a genuine, sincere effort to mitigate all the problems,” Zaremba says.

First, they hired a full-time director, Jennifer Grathwohl, for a job that used to be handled solely by volunteers. “She’s dedicated and qualified, and she brings good energy,” he adds.

To help with parking and traffic, a free shuttle runs from 5 to 10 p.m. It picks up fair-goers at the Hobby Lobby parking lot on South Boulder Road and drops off at the Louisville Historical Museum at Main and South streets. To encourage biking to the event, there’s a bike corral due west of the Steinbaugh Pavilion. The schedule was also reduced from nine to seven Friday evenings, but it’s still loaded with plenty of popular local and regional musical acts. Hot Buttered Rum (June 24) and Samantha Fish (July 15) are just two of the acts in the lineup; see the rest at www.downtownlouisvilleco.com. There are also children’s activities, arts and crafts, and a variety of local vendors.

“We’re pleased with the changes,” Zaremba says. “We think this year’s Street Faire will be better than ever.”