Main Street Morgantown held its first Arts Walk of the season featuring more than 50 local artists and small businesses on Saturday — the first in more than a year.
“Our safety of the community is always our main concern – safety of our business owners, safety of the artists that are out there,” said Stephanie Swaim, Main Street Morgantown’s promotions committee chair and owner of Hoot and Howl. “That’s been the biggest challenge.”
With vaccinations on the rise, Swaim said Main Street felt confident it could safely hold the event by primarily keeping artists and community members outside.
“We really focused a lot on how to handle COVID and social-distancing and all of that.” Swaim said. “And we really had no problems.”
For years, Arts Walk has served as a way to support local creators and small businesses.
Kay Lapp, a WVU student and ceramics artist, was excited to showcase her latest work after waiting a year since the last Arts Walk.
“People really like to go in person and see what they’re buying, feel what they’re buying, and I think the Arts Walk is a great opportunity for artists to come back together and interact with the community,” Lapp said.
Toward the beginning of the pandemic, many resources for artists at the University were closed, including the ceramics studio Lapp works in.
She uses Instagram and Etsy as ways to sell ceramics, but she says selling in person always has its advantages.
“I think the pandemic had a big effect on artists and local crafters because there’s not really a way to sell their wares in public,” Lapp said.
Another ceramics artist, Laura Kingora, said her favorite part of the Arts Walk is interacting with customers.
“I absolutely love the aspect of having sales, interacting with everybody, telling them about my pottery and meeting new people,” Kingora said. “I’m very excited to be part of Arts Walk.”
Just over a year ago, Kingora started a small business called 55 Oaks Studio where she sells a variety of ceramics, such as egg trays and coffee mugs.
She first became interested in pottery after taking classes at Zenclay Pottery Studio located on University Avenue.
“I just became obsessed from day one, and I knew, eventually, that I wanted to potentially sell my work,” Kingora said.
Main Street Morgantown will host this event every second Saturday of the month until October. Swaim encourages artists and musicians to register for future Arts Walks on Main Street Morgantown’s event page.
Main Street Morgantown is also planning to update the maps and kiosks throughout the downtown to improve tourism, according to Swaim. She said new brochures will available in the near future.