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Service Group of the Year – Silverton Sidewalk Shindig honored

By Melissa  Wagoner

When Alan Mickelson joined forces with Lawrence Stone, Greg Hart, Gregg Sheesley and Ron Nelson to put on the very first Silverton Sidewalk Shindig in 2012, he never could have predicted that 12 years later the event would still be going strong or that the organization would be the recipient of the Silverton Chamber of Commerce’s Service Group of the Year Award for 2023.

A dancing girl at the 2019 Shindig.
A dancing girl at the 2019 Shindig.

“That first year I think people were saying, ‘What is this?’” Mickelson recalled. “But after the first year, people did see there was some value in what was going on and to attracting people for the merchants and restaurants.”

Having a festival located solely in Silverton’s downtown corridor – rather than in Coolidge McClaine Park – has always been the primary goal of the festival, which organizers estimate attracts around 3,000 visitors each year.

“This last year was the best,” board member Emily Pawlak said of the 2023 lineup. It included 45 solo artists and bands. 

“It was the most fun… I heard so many good comments.”

Organizing the all-day event is no small feat, especially with a committee that is holding steady at five members.

“Nobody should underestimate the amount of effort it takes to pull off a whole day of rotating stages and musicians, coordinated with businesses as well,” City Councilor Eric Hammond wrote in his nomination letter.

The Norman Sylvester Band at the 2019 Shindig.
The Norman Sylvester Band at the 2019 Shindig.

“It takes commitment and hard work and belief in and love of the event,” board member Elizabeth Hess agreed. Adding, “But we have such a great chairperson and are so organized.”

And planning for the event has come a long way.

“At first the bands solicited their own venues,” Mickelson recalled. “But then the committee saw they needed to step up and step in.”

But while much about the organization behind the Shindig has changed – musicians are no longer paid solely in cash and organizers no longer write out the day’s schedule longhand on paper – the backing the organization receives from Silverton’s merchants has not.

“One of the neat things about this event is people have been so supportive,” chairperson Sarah Weitzman said. 

“A lot of pre-pandemic events didn’t come back. But we made an effort to come back. And now I think we really see the value in how important it is to support our town.”

The Sidewalk Shindig does not support just one group or entity.

“Instead it gives to the musicians, the audience, the businesses of Silverton and importantly the civic heart of Silverton,” Hammond wrote, “Each of us receives because of the Shindig.”

And those effects are easy to see.

“Walking around and seeing the crowds,” Hess said, “that says it all.”

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