Duluth has a friendly and open community, but it’s not always so obvious. There are, however, a number of events that get local Duluthians out of the house, and they truly come out of the woodwork for the annual Sidewalk Days Festival.
Wednesday, July 9 was the opening day of the festival and the smell of fried food and the sound of acoustic music floated through the streets as I strolled down Superior Street. The sun was bright and there was not a cloud in the sky. It seemed that the pleasant 68 degree weather put every festival goer in a cheery mood. A number of musicians were each playing folk or country music on every block.
The Sidewalk Days Festival is one of Duluth’s most popular summer events. It takes over a few blocks of Superior Street, starting on Lake Avenue and ending at 4th Avenue West. The festival is filled with a myriad of vendors; everything from clothes to art to jewelry to delicious county fair-type food is present. Different Superior Street shops and restaurants were out selling their specialty items in mass quantities, a lot of the time cheaper than usual.
One of the most striking vendor booths is a lemonade stand shaped like a giant lemon. Owned by Keith Schweiby and Schweiby’s Concessions, the stand is one of the more popular attractions when the temperatures begin to rise.
“If it’s warm, we got lines all day,” Schweiby said with a smile. “We do just fine, we do really well.”
Schweiby loves more than just the business Schweiby’s Concessions gets from the festival. He is a big fan of the whole event.
“It’s great!” Schweiby said. “Real nice event. A good mixture of food and people. We all enjoy it.”
The festival was teeming with children, which was not a surprise due to the bounce house, bean bag toss, inflatable basketball, and plenty of other kid friendly games. Ashley Hanson of Duluth was well aware of that when she brought her sons, Peyton and Parker Hanson to the event.
“We think it’s fun,” Hanson said. “They’re playing all the games here. We come every year. We’re from Duluth so we know what’s happening.”
It was obvious that Peyton and Parker were having fun as well. Peyton was a big fan of the bean bag toss, but Parker had other ideas.
“My favorite thing is the bouncy house!” Parker said enthusiastically.
Like most of Duluth’s big events, Sidewalk Days attracts plenty of tourists. A good portion of the crowd came from out of town just to soak in the day’s events on Superior Street. Not all tourists coming from a ways away showed up just for the festival. Joe Grisafi and Sydney White were visiting Duluth on a whim when they stumbled across the Sidewalk Days Festival.
“We’re staying in Walker,” White said. “We didn’t know this was going on. It’s pretty cool!”
“Yeah we just kind of stumbled across it,” Grisafi said agreeing.
You can see more photos of the Sidewalk Days Festival here.