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Crazy Days brings touch of normalcy to downtown

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Downtown Minnesota Street saw increased foot traffic thanks to the Crazy Days Markstrasse Handcraft Artisan Fair. The extra foot traffic also impacted downtown businesses.

NEW ULM — Crazy Days events continued downtown New Ulm Saturday despite sporadic weather.

Several blocks of downtown Minnesota Street were closed to vehicle traffic to host the Markstrasse Handcraft Artisan Fair. An early more rain shower prevented some vendors from attending, but most were able to weather the rain bursts. The heavy storms did not come until after the vendor fair ended. The light rain even helped keep temperatures cool.

The vendors brought in increased foot traffic and shoppers. Several downtown stores participated in the Ping Pong ball promotion. In past years, ping pong balls with coupons were dropped from the roof of a building and shoppers could try to collect as many as possible. This year due to COVID, the drop had to be canceled, but customers entering participating businesses could select a pong ball from a grab bag for a discount.

Sandy Reinke of Bailey Creek Boutique said they went through all the ping pong balls by early morning.

“It is good to see people downtown,” Reinke said. “Vendors seem to like it and anything that brings people downtown is good.”

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt The Divers performed for SST’s Music on the Steps concert. This was the first live performance at SST since the pandemic lockdown.

Barbara Larson at the Guttentag Haus said a steady stream of customers were coming into the door throughout the day. The only big change from past years is the shop kept their discount tables inside, but with the rain keeping sales items inside was a benefit.

The food vendors also benefited. The Optimist Club Cheese Curd stand went through over a hundred pounds of curds before noon.

At 4:30 p.m. festivities switched to State Street Theater (SST). The theater hosted live outdoor music on the front steps. A slight drizzle threatened the start of the event, but the rain stopped by the time Crista Bohlmann took the steps and audiences were not deterred. The weather held out for performances from DD & Rosco and Machiko. Lightning and thunder threatened to rain out a performance from The Divers, but it was hours before the rain fell out New Ulm.

The Divers and a Mankato band, but we’re excited to play New Ulm. Singer and mandolin player Peter Bloedle said their last performance was in New Ulm, but that was back in February before the pandemic.

“We’re really happy to be playing outside of the basement,” he said.

A couple of dozen family groups set up lawn chairs and picnic blankets on SST’s front lawn to hear the music. A few groups even listened from across the street near the Brown County Courthouse.

SST Board President Richard Tostenson said they had a great crowd for the concert. “People are excited to be here and I think the bands are excited too,” he said. “It was great to see music played again and that State Street could bring this together.”

Crazy Days is annual promotions for downtown businesses and organizations. This year it brought back a sense of normality in a crazy year.

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