Photographic evidence indicates that “street fairs” were part of the Norwalk community life in the early development of the city. Main Street was blocked off with various booths being erected down the center of the street. How the streetcars dodged pedestrians during the street fair must have been nothing short of a miracle.
But this is not 1895 — Norwalk’s downtown area has been developed and traffic patterns are considerably varied from the horse and buggy days. The present-day Strawberry Festival has again disrupted traffic flow through the downtown areas with barricades beginning at Newton Street and continuing to Milan/Woodlawn avenues.
Parking for the festival is also an issue — there isn’t much available space. Several downtown businesses rely on deliveries, made difficult by blocking off most side streets where the delivery trucks stop. An elderly gentleman was observed having to park his vehicle some distance away from the post office and having to walk there to handle business. Some merchants closed rather than have festival-goers use their restrooms — not everyone appreciates the Port-A-Potty experience. Cedar Point travelers had Norwalk’s festival and Sandusky’s Bike Week activities to navigate. I’m sure local emergency services trying to get from Point A to Point B had issues. The Baptist Church, Norwalk Church of God and St. Paul’s church services and graduation exercises were hampered by blocked off streets and parking problems.
Why not give the Huron County Fairgrounds another look? Ample parking, restroom facilities, shelters from potential rain storms and more than enough room for everything the festival offers. I’m not saying “forget the festival” — just consider moving it to a location that doesn’t mess up traffic for more than three days, allows downtown businesses to remain open and frees up parking for downtown churches.