Mount Airy Downtown discusses parking, fiddles

David Broyles Staff Reporter

October 10, 2013

Discussion during Tuesday’s regular board meeting of the Mount Airy Downtown and Downtown Business Association centered on Autumn Leaves Festival use for a newly completed public parking lot on Virginia Street and on a Fiddle Crawl fundraiser.

Mount Airy Public Services Director Jeff Boyles told the group the total costs for the parking lot project were about $92,000. Group President Ted Ashby asked the board for direction on whether the lot should remain as free parking for the festival or if a parking fee would be charged with the proceeds going to MAD.

“Because I haven’t received any strong indication from the board towards letting one group getting to use the lot we have some options,” said Ashby. Board member John Collins suggested keeping the parking free for the festival to keep with the city’s image of being a friendly city. Downtown Business Association President Phil Marsh agreed with Collins and said vendors usually filled up the lots first during the festival. The lot, located on Virginia Street just off North Main Street to the rear of Leon’s Burger Express, contains about 50 spaces.

Ashby told the group MAD would form a committee to develop an agreement with the city outlining the use and reserve use of the lot and the motion was passed for parking in the new lot to be free during the festival.

Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison gave the financial report for the group and reported a balance of $25,867.52. Marsh also gave an update on Downtown Business Association activities for Halloween and the annual Christmas Parade.

Morrison a Downtown Mount Airy Community Economic Vision Forum had been set for Nov. 19 at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History from 6:30 to 9 p.m. It’s goal is to provide residents, business owners, property owners and community leaders an opportunity to participate in shaping long-range plans for the central business district.

Morrison said she hopes participants will write a vision statement for the next five years for downtown. She recently became coordinator as part of Mount Airy rejoining of the North Carolina Main Street Program after about a 20-year absence, as a way to help ensure the long-term viability the downtown area.

She presented the group with a listing of possible participants, 36 of which will be asked to take eight photos of things they like, as part of a “Picture Downtown” portion of the meeting. Morrison told the board they are also proposing art walks on Dec. 7 and April 12.

Morrison briefly described the Fiddle Crawl as a public art event and fundraiser which will feature larger than life, three dimensional fiberglass fiddle sculptures. The fiddles will be decorated and embellished by local artists and will be placed in key downtown locations for a five-month public art exhibit.

The fiddles will be revealed in the spring and an auction to sell them, which is the fundraiser portion of the project, will take place in the fall. She said fiddles were chosen because of Mount Airy’s ties to old-time and bluegrass music. She said the sculptures will be around four feet tall and supported by a base about one foot in height. The cost of each fiddle is underwritten by a patron business, individual, or organization.

She said the artists will be encouraged to have the artwork give each sculpture its own unique story. The crawl part of the title comes from the trail connecting the sculptures at their various locations which can be walked by admirers.

Reach David Broyles at or 336-719-1952.