By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
Despite an early finish triggered by Saturday’s inclement weather, Depot Days organizers said visitors could have hardly been more plentiful and spirited.
The event’s level of success was satisfying, they added, given how lively Gainesville already was in other parts of the city.
Friday’s high school home football game, the Antique Airplane Association Fly-In and a 150-year anniversary observance of Gainesville’s Great Hanging drew their own ample crowds, and yet the two-day Depot Days festival packed California and Commerce streets.
“We could not have asked for more,” Depot Days Chair Laura Otts said Saturday. “It’s perfect.”
Main Street Program Manager Lynette Pettigrew said she begged to differ.
“It’s better than perfect,” she said. “It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, and there’s just enough breeze because the wind has died down. Everybody’s got a smile on their face and everybody’s having a good time.”
Pettigrew admitted Friday’s installment, with its “After Dark” concert trio of Main Street Stage performing acts, didn’t draw the numbers observed during the Summer Sounds series or the 2011 episode of Depot Days.
But those who didn’t attend were probably stayed local, and Pettigrew said that suited her fine.
“Everybody was out cheering Leopard football,” she said. “We know the game was going on and that they won — and that’s where a lot of our people were, and that’s great, and that’s where we want them to be.”
Saturday and its Main Street Festival brought the crowds. Members of the North Texas Antique and Vintage Car Club displayed their showpieces along California Street and nearby and varying vendors peddled face painting, arts and crafts and oversized turkey legs. The early morning brought the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce “Disco Bike Rally” in Leonard Park while members of the Gainesville Area Visual Arts used the Santa Fe Depot for an art show. Children hopped in bounce houses while a team of Western-themed performers stood on Main Street and re-enacted a “Gunsmoke”-style shootout.
Visitor Pat Ledbetter said the strength of Depot Days is in its success of bonding people in a community who arrive downtown with so many of these different interests.
“I think we’ve got a lot to be proud of in our downtown area during a period when other towns around the state, and even around the country, are dying,” she said Saturday. “I think ours remains vibrant and interesting.”