The 70s were a decade of hot pants, disco and earth shoes. Looking back, it seemed like one big party. One party that eventually morphed into the Avenues long-running street fair was a neighborhood get together called a “wine, cheese and tool exchange.”
The Avenues area of Salt Lake was undergoing a rejuvenation during the 70s. Prior to that time, speculators were buying properties to develop them into apartments and commercial venues. Since the idea was to sell the properties at a high price to developers, a lot of homes and yards deteriorated as owners waited to sell. Then downzoning legislation was passed which returned the focus of the Avenues to single-family housing.
Families moved back to the area and started to remodel and restore this architecturally diverse and historic area. Neighbors got together to exchange ideas and tools over potluck dinners and the Greater Avenues Association was born.
These neighborhood parties expanded into a street fair that included house tours. The tours continued until the fair became a city-wide event. Sydney Fonnesbeck coordinates volunteers for the street fair and has seen it grow from small beginnings to a major undertaking. “In the beginning we took anyone as a vendor just to cover costs. Now we can be fussier and fussier,” she said.
The vendors now number around 200 and the association tries to limit the booths to home-grown craftsmen and artists. They give first choice to Avenues residents. There are a lot of food vendors as well as artists, jewelry makers and a childrens area. There are also booths sponsored by Avenues businesses such as Hatch Family Chocolates and Diggity Dog Resort. Sydney said, “The key word is local, local, local.”
The association expects about 10,000 people to attend this year’s one-day event on September 7th. It will be held on 1st Avenue between P and U Streets. Festivities start at 9 am with a children’s parade, and go until 5 pm in the evening. With that many expected visitors Sydney is still looking for volunteers. “I need strong people to set up, and bossy people to be block captains.”
Those interested in volunteering may contact Sydney at, firstname.lastname@example.org