FARGO — Thirty minutes after the Downtown Fargo Street Fair opened Thursday, July 15, the booths teemed with people eyeing curiosities and standing in lines for cool, tall lemonades and jalapeno cheese curds.
For Joslynn Lende, owner of the hand-battered cheese curd stand, being back among paying customers was a welcome relief after last year’s street fair was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“More than half of our events were cancelled last year,” Lende said. She poured jalapeno cheese curds into a paper bowl. “So far this season, everyone has been happy. We’re excited to be out and about again.”
With a line seven people deep, she sold more than 50 orders in the first hour.
Comedian John Narum, a yo-yo performer from Fargo, had a tough time “trying to keep the spark alive” last year, and jokingly told an audience of children and adults that he turned to researching state spending issues while secluded indoors.
“Some people run the Fargo Marathon, I do the yo-yo for 20 minutes at a time,” Narum said. “Last year was definitely difficult, but it’s great to be back.”
Halfway through his performance in Broadway Square, yo-yos flying through the air, children shouted their approval. “You’re amazing,” one child yelled.
Paul Peng, originally from Taiwan, came from Los Angeles to sell bonsai trees, bamboo plants and other ornaments at the street fair. From behind a face mask Peng kept busy with customers paying about $40 a plant.
“Not busy last year, but we kept safe,” Peng said.
Sam Malcolm, a comedic knife juggler from Nevada, attracted a crowd of dozens of people who were mesmerized by his performance. Standing on top of a ladder, he expressed how wonderful it was to see so many people of different nationalities put aside religion and politics to enjoy the festive albeit sweltering day.
“That being said, it’s a perfect time to talk about politics. If you’re a liberal, I’m an artist. If you’re a conservative, I’m a small business. If you’re a libertarian, I don’t pay my taxes. If you’re the IRS, I’m lying,” Malcolm told the crowd.
Traci Issendorf, from Wahpeton, is a longtime seller of scented candles and potpourri at the street fair. Last year she depended on her part-time job on the front lines of the pandemic as a long-term care worker to survive, which wasn’t easy.
“I don’t feel life is back to normal yet. I’m concerned about the Delta variant coming. We got a lot of unvaccinated people in North Dakota,” Issendorf said. “But so far, the shows have been good this year, sales are up and people are spending money."
The Downtown Fargo Street Fair will continue Friday and Saturday, July 16 and 17, starting at 10 a.m. each day. This year’s event features about 200 arts and crafts vendors, with musical entertainment in the evenings in Broadway Square.