Second Sunday on Main brings new eyes, wallets to Over-the-Rhine

CINCINNATI - The Second Sunday on Main street festival kicked off Sunday by highlighting an eclectic mix of local vendors, delicious food, street performances and the rich history of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

In addition to providing people from across the Tri-State a chance to take part in all that Main Street and the surrounding OTR community has to offer, Second Sunday offers businesses an opportunity to reach out to a cross-section of customers that might not venture into the area on a regular basis.


"We get a lot of repeat customers because of Second Sundays," said Jeff Fields, a bartender at Mr. Pitiful's.

Despite a mixture of live music, food trucks and locally produced arts and crafts just feet from the entrance to the bar, Mr. Pitiful's had dozens of people enjoying adult beverages and good company inside the spacious Over-the-Rhine mainstay throughout the day.

Fields said his establishment doesn't typically open on Sundays but the monthly, summer-long event brings enough extra foot traffic into the area to justify opening doors to could-be customers.

"Second Sunday definitely brings a lot of business down to the Main Street area that we don't have that on a normal Sunday," Fields said as he served a beverage and something to eat to one of his customers. "Business is great."

Stephanie Rowland and Sara Bornick from Streetpops have also noticed an uptick in business from of the event, which will be held the second Sunday of every month through October.

"We get a lot more business than a usual Sunday," said Bornick, adding that additional attractions and things to look at, taste and take home give people an excuse to venture to their location at the corner of Main and Liberty streets. "It's definitely the busiest day in the shop."

The homemade, designer Popsicle shop also features a mobile cart that allows representatives from the company to take part in various events in OTR such as art-centric Final Friday and an upscale rummage sale known as The City Flea.

Bornick said that the simple name recognition that comes from making Streetpops visible during those events creates new business.

"We get a lot of people who maybe hadn't heard of us give a try and come back. Sometimes they'll make special trips," she said.

Reaching out to unique audiences is something assistant gallerist Katie Dreyer said is important for 1305 Gallery, the gallery where she works.

While the Over-the-Rhine art community tends to get the most attention during Final Friday (the last Friday of every month), Dreyer said Second Sunday opens up the gallery and the art it displays to a very different audience.

"I think the biggest difference between Final Friday and Second Sunday is the people it draws in," she said. "Final Friday draws a very similar crowd that is looking to extend their night to the bar scene. Second Sunday is a little more about families that are looking to explore the neighborhood."

Dreyer said the street festival brings new eyes and potential business into the gallery, people like families and artists who may not have the time to check it during Final Friday. She said attendance Sunday was approximately three times more than what walked into the gallery the previous weekend.

"It's nice to see families, people from the suburbs and artists who don't always have a lot of free time come into the gallery," she said. "After all, there is a larger majority of Cincinnatians and Northern Kentuckians who are available to do things like go to a gallery on a Sunday rather than a Friday."

While she's quick to note that weather can have a lot to do with the amount of people who venture into the area on a given weekend, she said there's no doubt events like Second Sunday have an impact on the number of people who get to see and possibly purchase art. A good thing for the gallery, but also local artists and the community.

Reaching out to those audiences can often be difficult due to the reputation some people have bestowed upon OTR. Given a perceived re-escalation of violence in the community, which includes two shooting deaths in the past month, Fields said Second Sunday can also serve as a public relations tool for the community.

"We get a lot of bad P.R. sometimes, but people come down here and get a better representation of what the neighborhood is all about, see it's not really that bad and come back."

Reamaining Second Sunday on Main events are scheduled on July 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 8 and Oct. 13. Events run from noon until 5 p.m.

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