Saturday, August 2, 2008

Steppin' Out in Blacksburg

I went to Steppin' Out for a bit yesterday afternoon. If you aren't from southwest Virginia, then you may not know what it is. Actually, if you are from the area, you still might not know, as there wasn't really a lot of promotion that I saw going on for the event in recent months. Why the town of Blacksburg has this festival before Virginia Tech's 23,041 students have all returned is beyond me, as the students could use more events on the weekends in such a rural area.

I had heard a lot about this event through the grapevine, and because I work for a local newspaper, I also knew about it because of preparations for stories and events listings. I was eager to see what was going down, but my excitement quickly dissipated by the time I made it to the end of Draper Road and started walking back down Main Street.

It seems Steppin' Out is really not much more than a scene out of Attack of the Hippies. Basically, all of the restaurants downtown set up stands in the middle of the streets to sell the exact same thing they sell in their restaurants already when they aren't busy shutting down the streets. In addition, you can find stand after stand of hippie jewelry, hippie clothing and rock sculptures. There was some music going on, which was decent, I guess, but nothing out-of-the-ordinary. Perhaps the most interesting part of Steppin' Out was just people watching and trying not to get cut by the ones walking by with multiple pieces of metal hanging from various body parts.

I'm not trying to put down the town of Blacksburg or its people at all — I really love it here. However, this event just wasn't something I personally felt like was all that great. I'll stick to the naturally provided weekend events in the New River Valley, as there are plenty of places to bike, hike and fish. To me, I'd think with a research university supporting the town's economy, Blacksburg would make an effort to host more events that young professionals would enjoy. I guess at the very least, after yesterday, I am more sure than ever that if I get a tattoo, it won't be generally visible (or at least, if it is, I won't grow dreadlocks).


Kevin said...

Yeah, the Steppin' Out event itself isn't all that great, but to me, it's about the community. I've lived in Blacksburg all my life so I mainly go to see people from town I haven't seen in a while. All my old classmates from school come and we get to catch up. I just like having our small town together before the mad rush of students come back who don't know Blacksburg the way us locals do. I love the Blacksburg community.

JD said...

Thanks for your comment, Kevin. I can see where the event would be a great venue for catching up with others in the community. I too love the area, and I can only imagine what it has been like to grow up in Blacksburg and see the university grow up around it. There's an interesting dynamic between the students and residents it seems, and I'm not sure if there's anyone who really fully understands it. Because I'm a second-year graduate student, I haven't had the full experience I guess that undergrads get. I hear talk though about "those darn townies," but I also think any hostilities from townies toward students probably can't always be unwarranted. Developing a good balance that supports the student contingent but that doesn't alienate those who call Blacksburg home, VT or no VT, could prove difficult, but I admire the town for at least attempting to do so.

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