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City approves Main Street events
Relay for Life opening 2019.jpg
Relay for Life has been approved for downtown McMinnville on June 6. Pictured is the Survivor Lap of last year’s event.

Back to the Strip has been approved for Main Street for 2020, but the car show may face relocation in 2021. 

McMinnville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen gave its stamp of approval for the following 2020 festivities on Tuesday night: Sip & Saveur: Tasting and Art Showcase on April 18, Queens for a Cause Autism Awareness 5K on April 25, Back to the Strip on May 2, and Relay for Life on June 6.

All but one received unanimous approval from Mayor Ben Newman, Vice Mayor Ryle Chastain and Aldermen Rachel Kirby, Kate Alsbrook, Everett Brock and Mike Neal. Back to the Strip was approved 5-1. Making the sole objection was Alderman Mike Neal.

“While I think Meals on Wheels is a great thing and while I think what you are doing is great, I’m going to be pro-business on this and vote against,” said Neal.

That statement came after a lengthy discussion regarding Back to the Strip, an event that was previously tabled for consideration. The fundraiser for Meals on Wheels utilizes downtown from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Organizer Mary Lee Walker says the city’s delay in approving the event has cost $5,000. 

“The timeline has gotten us in trouble,” said Walker. “I’m already in trouble with some sponsors. I can’t order medals for the 5K. That means we are down $5,000 for Meals on Wheels for not being able to have a 5K.”

Last year’s event raised over $31,000 and according to event organizer Chris Terry, it attracted roughly 1,200 visitors.

Back to the Strip is a two-part event. After the stationary portion of the event is held in the daytime with a car show and 5K race, participants go for an evening ride on The Strip. 

“I have an objection, if I can be allowed to speak, if possible,” said Danny Jones, who owns Evelyn Taylor Avenue with his wife, Penny. “We are here in opposition to the car show that shuts down Main Street downtown.”

Jones stressed they are not in opposition to Back to the Strip. They would, however, like the event to move to a different location and offered three objections why it isn’t a good fit for Main Street.  

Objection one, the event shuts down Main Street during prime business hours: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jones estimates his business lost $2,000.

Objection two, the event attracts a specific type of visitor and not those in the mood to eat or shop.

Suggested was a relocation to somewhere better suited, such as Plaza Shopping Center, Northgate Center, McMinnville Civic Center, or on the vacant lot on Smithville Highway which is the former location of Davis Homes.

Objection three, the behavior of some car show participants.

“As the car show ended and the competition was closing out last year, some of the participants felt the need to burn their tires on Main Street on their way out of the show,” said Jones. “The handful of people who were walking the street at that time were scrambling and grabbing their kids off the street. People that happened to venture into our store at that time were complaining about the smoke in the air and the burnt tires.”

Both Walker and Terry voiced displeasure at the ongoing controversy and mentioned relocation.

“If we move anywhere, and I don’t know that we will, we’ll move somewhere on The Strip,” said Terry. “The reason why we moved downtown is because we thought it was a good fit for the community. It supports the community. Downtown is beautiful. We thought it would benefit us and our sponsors with people coming by it."

While Neal was the sole objection this year, he may be joined by Chastain and Brock next year. 

Prior to casting his vote, Chastain stated, “Based on feedback that I’ve gotten from the community and my own personal thoughts, I am inclined to agree with them. I’m going to vote yes now, for this year, but I really do think that arrangements need to be made to get it off Main Street and in some other area downtown.”

“I agree with you,” said Brock. 

Alderman Steve Harvey was absent.