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Ryan Johnson

Johnson: Follow these tips for Street Fair success

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Ditch the cars and get ready to do some shopping – the 39th annual Downtown Street Fair kicks off on Broadway Thursday.

For three days, Broadway will be converted into a pedestrian hotspot as thousands of people from all over the region look for arts and crafts, load up on street food or just enjoy the sights and sounds of a buzzing downtown Fargo.

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But first-time visitors might be overwhelmed by it all – usually drawing 100,000 to 150,000, the street fair claims to be North Dakota’s largest free outdoor event. Here are some tips to have a good time taking it all in these next few days.

Get ready to walk: The frequent complaint that downtown Fargo has “no parking” doesn’t go very far with me, and I think it’s more than a little ridiculous to gripe about having to park a whole half-block from the restaurant or business of choice. Seriously, a little walking never hurt anyone.

But there’s no sugarcoating the parking situation during the Street Fair, when a big stretch of Broadway is closed to traffic and everyone is trying to find a close spot. It can be a pain, and it’s almost impossible to get within a few blocks of the festivities.

Consider walking to the Street Fair if you live within a mile or so of downtown – it’ll save you frustration. Carpooling is always a great option, as is taking the bus.

If you must drive, be patient, and realize that everyone else is looking for that open parking spot that likely was taken hours before they got downtown.

You’ll have the best luck trying to get a spot on the street in one of the residential areas near downtown. Just make sure you follow the laws, and don’t park in someone else’s spot or driveway.

Even if you find an open parking lot in the heart of downtown, read the signs first – chances are good that it’s a private lot for one of the local businesses, and even if that spot isn’t taken right now, someone will need to park there to get to work.

Smart shopping: Resist the temptation to buy the first pretty piece of art you see, because you just might find something you like even better a block or two later.

I usually take a lap through the full Street Fair first, checking out the vendors to get an idea of what arts and crafts I like best. That way, when I’m ready to start making some purchases, I’ll know that I ended up with the better deal or bought the one print I really wanted.

Pace your pig-out: Go ahead and get your fill of street food – who can think about a healthy salad or smoothie when the smell of cheese curds lingers in the air?

Just pace yourself, and make it a point to snack on the delicious delicacies throughout your time at the Street Fair. Chowing down on five fried appetizers at once might sound like a good idea on an empty stomach, but eating so much heavy food on a warm day, especially when walking is involved, will only make you lethargic.

In case of an accidental fried-food overdose, find some iced coffee or soda to perk back up.

Enjoy: Don’t stress out about the parking crunch or how much you just spent on mini doughnuts – the Street Fair only comes once a year, so indulge and enjoy it.

It’s a chance to take in some sun and walk down Broadway with friends or family, and even if you don’t spend any money, there’s plenty of entertainment during the big event.

If You Go WHAT: 39th annual Downtown Street Fair

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Downtown Fargo

INFO: For more information, visit www.downtownfargo.com

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Ryan Johnson
After four years of covering news for the Grand Forks Herald and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Ryan Johnson has been a features reporter for The Forum's Variety section since 2013. His prior beats included politics, business, city government and higher education. Johnson is a 2008 alumnus of the University of North Dakota. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com
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