|Free live music was provided during the Court Days Festival as performers took the Bluegrass Sound Stage. Photo courtesy Tracy Pearce
|Weather fails to dampen Court Days spirit
|By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
Poorer than expected weather conditions didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of shoppers who braved cool temperatures and intermittent rain throughout the Court Days weekend.
Despite a drop in the number of vendors the turnout was good, local officials say.
“I thought it was a very well attended festival,” Tourism Director Tracy Pearce said.
Even on Saturday when a steady drizzle threatened, the crowd occasionally went for cover, but continued their passage through the crowd, she said.
While there were reports of fewer vendors this year, especially downtown, Pearce said it was hard to determine.
“The vendors may have been down in some areas, but were up in others,” she said.
Some areas were fuller with vendors because they offered discounted rates this year, Pearce said.
Mayor Gary Williamson said the drop in vendors was noticeable and is a sign of the times as the cost of travel precludes some from setting up shop hundreds of miles away.
The poor weather may have also affected the number of vendors, he said.
“If we’d had the better weather I think we’d have had a lot better response from the vendors,” the mayor said.
Pearce said the free music offered Saturday and Sunday on Maysville Street was a nice attraction, one that she hopes to continue.
Several former residents also returned to Mt. Sterling this year to enjoy Court Days after they visited the Trojan reunion Saturday at Sterling Meadows, she said.
Court Days is not just a local event.
Pearce said she met people from California and Indiana, for instance, at the welcome booth sponsored by Leadership Montgomery County and heard several positive comments.
“Everyone I talked to seemed to have a good time,” she said.
There was one black mark on the weekend.
Police reported an accidental shooting involving a security guard for a vendor Saturday morning.
Police Chief David Charles said the man was helping load a trailer just after 9 a.m. near East Locust Street and Wilson Alley when he dropped a handgun and was shot in the arm.
The man, who was not a local resident, suffered a non-life threatening injury and is expected to recover, the chief said.
Charles said the accident illustrates the need for caution when handling firearms, especially during the Court Days weekend when so many weapons are around.
“We want everybody to be safe and happy and enjoy their constitutional rights,” he said.
While the MSPD warns gun vendors and festival-goers to sell or trade only unloaded firearms, officers found several that were loaded during routine inspection.
Officers also encountered several festival-goers with dogs, which are also prohibited at Court Days.
Charles said officers informed them of the policy and instructed them to keep the dogs on a short leash, but did not ask them to leave. They were asked not to bring them back.
As for counterfeit goods, Charles said officers saw some suspicious items, but received no complaints from companies about items being sold there.
Two years ago, the MSPD made several arrests and recovered more than $500,000 in counterfeit North Face and UGG products during Court Days.
There were a few assaults reported at the festival, but none of them with serious injury, Charles said.
In all, the MSPD responded to 197 Court Days-related calls for service, wrote 19 citations and made 13 arrests, nothing out of line for the festival.
“It was a pretty typical Court Days,” Charles said. “It was pretty standard.”
“Overall it was a very congenial Court Day, an excellent festival and a positive credit to our community,” he added.
Downtown was cleaned up by Tuesday morning. Rumpke, Mt. Sterling Public Works and Montgomery County Regional Jail inmates participated in the cleanup.
Court Days is Kentucky’s longest running festival.