BLACKSBURG, Va. – People are showing up and coming out for the 41st Annual Steppin’ Out Festival in Blacksburg.
Over 200 vendors were at the event, but one local business owner remembers a time when Steppin’ Out looked a little different.
For John Kline of John’s Cameras and Records in Downtown Blacksburg, Steppin’ Out will forever be known as Deadwood Days.
“The summers were quite slow. You didn’t have many students in Blacksburg. I mean, he was dead,” Kline said.
In business for more than 45 years, Kline understood the need for people to shop local and found a fun way to do it.
“We had a party! And everyone was dressed up, cowboy, and it was a lot of fun,” he said.
Organizers later renamed the event.
“So we started Steppin’ Out,” Kline said. “And it softened a lot. Much more family oriented.”
The festival continues to bring the community together and helps stimulate the Blacksburg economy.
“Every booth you see here represents someone living in Blacksburg who had a dream to start a business,” said Blacksburg Books manager Ellen Woodall. “So every dollar you spend here stays in Blacksburg and also shows that person that you were right. You were right to follow your dream.”
For Woodall, that dream came true exactly one year ago, when Blacksburg Books opened during Steppin’ Out.
“We were running back and forth from the store to Steppin’ Out,” Woodall said. “There were thousands of people in the store, there were thousands of people at our stands. But it was good that people could see that we exist.”
And to Woodall, Blacksburg businesses are like family.
“When we first started, a lot of local businesses stepped up and helped us and gave us advice,” she said. “And there are so many local businesses here that it would be absurd to look anywhere else for community, support and products.”
As for Kline, he said he hopes to be a part of Steppin’ Out for years to come.
“I’m good for another ten years like this,” Kline said.
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