Olde Salem Days is set to return Saturday, Sept. 10. from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in downtown Salem.
“It has always been a big event and a pretty big deal,” Jane Johnson, president of the Rotary Club of Salem, said. An estimated 25,000-30,000 people attend the event each year.
Admission to the 42nd annual Olde Salem Days is free.
“Olde Salem Days is a great chance to enjoy a day with family and friends, an opportunity made possible by the warmth and diverse talents of the people of Salem and surrounding communities,” a Sept. 1 release from the Rotary Club of Salem, the organizer of the event, said.
The club anticipates an event larger than last year’s, with more than 250 artisans and crafters in attendance at the outdoor bazaar.
“We’re working hard to bring in new and exciting crafters,” Johnson said. There will be an app that will allow shoppers to pinpoint on a map where their favorite crafters are located and provide a link to their website.
There will also be food trucks. Musical entertainment will be set up in the Farmers Market. An auto show will also be at the event.
“This year the Virginia Department of Health will have a booth and their mobile unit in the Salem Library parking lot providing COVID vaccines and Hepatitis A vaccines free of charge to serve our communities,” Johnson said.
Parking will be at the Salem Civic Center. A shuttle service will transport attendees to downtown.
Johnson said a considerable amount of work goes into organizing the event, but that the “benefits are tremendous.”
Olde Salem Days is the largest fund-raising event for the club. Proceeds from the event are distributed by the club to charities. More information can be found at oldesalemdays.com.
On average, around $40,000 is raised each year.
Johnson, who owns R.M. Johnson & Sons Jewelers, noted that most downtown business owners don’t mind the disruption caused by the event even if it means they don’t do much business that day.
“Because I know firsthand the good that this does bring to the community, I’m OK with it being a day that my store doesn’t do much business at all,” she said. “Salem is overall pretty welcoming to the idea of Olde Salem Days.”
She added that the event also brings awareness to the businesses that are downtown due to the increased foot traffic. Additionally, some businesses like restaurants do quite well during the event.
Throughout the day, a group of Roanoke College students led by a member of the Rotary Club will be conducting surveys of the vendors and visitors. “There is an effort to find out what people want to see being offered at next year’s show,” Johnson said.