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Salem, VA

After one year hiatus, Olde Salem Days returns for its 38th celebration

Salem Times Register
Salem Times Register
Thousands of people crowded Salem’s Main Street to examine the various vendors at Olde Salem Days. Photo by Shawn Nowlin.

Thousands of Salem residents had something to celebrate last Saturday as the Olde Salem Days Festival returned for its 38th year. Main Street throughout the day, explained attendee Chase Taylor, felt a little like New York City because of how busy it was.

Because he lives so close to Main Street, Taylor was able to walk to Olde Salem Days from his apartment. “I couldn’t wait to experience this year’s festival. I embraced every moment of it. I took countless pictures with family and friends, supported a variety of local vendors and grabbed a bunch of business cards,” he added.

Last year’s Olde Salem Days Festival was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, attendees had eight hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to check out more than 300 craftsmen and vendors who made their way to the event. Hosted by the city and the Salem Rotary Club, free shuttle and remote parking were offered to attendees.

Not one of the more than 15,000 festivalgoers who showed up had to pay anything for admission. Delegate David Suetterlein and Delegate Joe McNamara were among the many notable faces in attendance. Being that this year’s event fell on September 11, countless attendees proudly displayed their 9/11 memorabilia.

When it comes to arts and crafts festivals, Kellan Clark says it doesn’t get much better than Olde Salem Days. At the start of every year, Clark saves money each month for the sole purpose of the annual event. “There is nothing like coming across a reasonably priced item that you can’t find elsewhere. I’ve gotten birthday gifts, holiday gifts and more from Olde Salem Days. I absolutely love this event,” he said.

Stephen Sharpe, Clarke’s longtime friend, encouraged his loved ones to not just be viewers on Saturday, but supporters too. “For many of the artisans, this is a make-or-break day for their business. As a small business owner, I know how important opportunities like this are,” he said.

Recently, Olde Salem Days was voted as one of the best places to shop for one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts, something that did not surprise both Sharpe and Clarke.

Olde Salem Days is the largest fundraising event for the local rotary club. In recent years, approximately $70,000 has been given to organizations throughout Roanoke Valley.

“Olde Salem Days is unique in that it is truly a handmade and handcrafted event. The vendors are so creative every year and provide products that cannot be bought at any big box store,” Former Olde Salem Days Chairman Tony Rippee said. “Salem is a small community, and events such as this set us apart from bigger cities. There is so much to do for both young and old. Our goal is to provide activities for everyone.”

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